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Full text of "Dreams"

CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 





Cornell University 
Library 



The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924013245208 



PR 9369.2.8371)7 1915 
Dream*. 



iiHiiimiiiii 

3 1924 013 245 208 



DREAMS 



BY 

OLIVE SCHREINER 



AUTHOR'S EDITION 



BOSTON 

LITTLE, BROWN, A^D COMPANY 

191S 



prfntns 
8. J. PABKaiA^L A Co., Boston, U.S.A. 



TO 

21 Small @itI-C!)tIti 

WHO MAY LIVE TO GRASP 

SOMEWHAT OF THAT WHICH FOE US 

IS YET SIGHT, NOT TOUCH 



INTRODUCTION 



TO the women working for libera- 
tion the world over, Olive 
Schreiner stands as a noble 
leader. Novel readers know her as the 
author of "The Story of an African 
Farm," a solitary work of youthful 
genius. But to those who, behind all 
social movements and the fiction which 
reflects them, find their deepest interest 
in the evolution of life, and its philosophic 
and artistic expression, this volume of 
Olive Schreiner's " Dreams " — pro- 
foundly stirring allegories which have 
their place among the greatest in world- 
literature — is the complete expression of 
her peculiar power. 



INTRODUCTION 



It has been said with truth of Olive 
Schreiner that she is a philosopher who 
looks upon the world with the eyes of an 
artist. For throughout her writings, even 
those which are political or controversial, 
whenever she is roused emotionally (and 
that is often) she begins to picture 
thought; and like the artist of her 
dream, " The Artist's Secret," she gets 
the glowing colour of her brain pictures 
from the throbbing heart of life... At 
other times, Olive Schreiner may be rhe- 
torical or careless in expression ("these 
things matter very little," she has declared 
with superb unconcern) ; but immediately 
she begins to visualize, form and colour 
take the place of rhetoric, and the result 
is a masterpiece of literary art. 

Among the irreparable losses sustained 
by mankind in the brutal stupidity of mod- 
ern warfare may be counted the larger 
number of Olive Schreiner's " dreams." 



INTRODUCTION xi 

Each chapter of her unpublished book on 
Woman, the major work of a lifetime, 
destroyed by British soldiers during the 
Boer War, contained one or more such 
allegories. " Three Dreams in a Desert," 
which has served as an inspiration to 
English-speaking women wherever the 
woman movement is felt or heard, was 
taken from this manuscript and alone sur- 
vives the disaster. Together with the ten 
other allegories preserved in the present 
volume, it is all that remains to us of Olive 
Schreiner's art. 

The personality and life-work of Olive 
Schreiner seem to sum up an entire epoch 
in the social growth of woman. She was 
born In the heart of South Africa, the 
daughter of a German missionary and an 
English mother of Puritan ancestry, and 
her childhood was spent on a mission sta- 
tion. Her early spiritual autobiography is 
contained in " The Story of an African 



xii INTRODUCTION 

Farm," begun while she was still a child 
(a wonder-child 1 ) and finished before she 
was twenty. Alone in the African bush, 
Olive Schreiner's curious and reverent 
study of primitive nature, her bold and 
logical mind, led her to reject all religious 
creeds and belief in a personal God, and 
to accept the evolutionary theory of life. 
The further discovery, in her haunting 
allegory of "The Hunter," that "no 
man liveth to himself and no man dieth 
to himself," developed the higher con- 
sciousness of human solidarity. 

About the age of twenty, In 1882, Olive 
Schrelner left the sandy plains and hill- 
ocks of South Africa and went to Eng- 
land, carrying with her the manuscript of 
" The Story of an African Farm." This 
first book was not only a singular work of 
creative genius, It possessed in its intimate 
and realistic descriptions of South African 
life, for English and American readers. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

all the fascination of the distant and the 
strange. The religious motive was not 
new to Victorian England, except in its 
presentation. But the heroine, Lyndall, 
was distinctly a fresh emergence in Eng- 
lish fiction, and the forerunner of many 
" new women " in our literature. The 
young author, however, proved not to 
possess the qualities of a professional 
novelist. She was preeminently a student 
and a dreamer. 

Olive Schreiner's sQcial consciousness 
was painfully quickened by the complex 
and pathological life of big cities. She 
lived alone in the East End of London, 
making her own observations and forming 
her own conclusions. Her great allegory, 
"The Sunlight Lay Across My Bed," 
with its tremendous sweep of the histor- 
ical imagination, and its modern socialist 
vision of Hell and Heaven, was written 
partly in a London attic. Other socialist 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

" dreams " took shape in that eager, 
aspiring mind, and they were published; 
but her critics felt robbed and cheated that 
the young writer who had revealed such 
an astonishing power of thought and gift 
of imaginative prose should not produce 
another novel. They wanted more stories 
of South Africa, of adventurous English- 
men and homely Boers, or of her own 
heroic personality. A slight volume of 
sketches appeared, early work, entitled 
characteristically " Dream Life and Real 
Life," showing only the author's un- 
flinching realism and her preoccupation 
with the " woman question." Then it de- 
veloped that Olive Schreiner had found 
the social awakening of wom«n the most 
urgent and absorbing subject in the world, 
one of the vital reorganizing movements 
of human life, similar to the centuries-old 
struggle for religious freedom of thought; 
and she had thrown herself into the move- 



INTRODUCTION xv 

ment with more than missionary zeal, with 
the patient study of the philosopher and 
the imagination of the poet. 

In 1894, Olive Schreiner married a 
well-known South African politician, Mr. 
S. C. Cronwright, and thenceforth she 
made her home on an African farm. One 
of her brothers, the Hon. W. P. Schrei- 
ner, was Prime Minister of Cape Colony 
during the difficult years which preceded 
the Boer War, and Olive Schreiner used 
all her powerful influence, literary and po- 
litical, to avert the slaughter and arouse 
both Englishmen and Boers to a sa- 
ving realization of human brotherhood. 
"Trooper Peter H'alket of Mashona- 
land," the dramatic story written in 1897, 
contains a terrific indictment of British 
methods of colonization in South Africa, 
and the evil genius of Cecil Rhodes. 
" The South African Question," a politi- 
cal pamphlet which appeared two years 



Kvi INTRODUCTION 

later, was an impassioned appeal to the 
English sense of justice and greatness. 
" There are hundreds of us, men and 
women," she wrote eloquently, " who 
have loved England; we would have 
given our lives for her; but, rather than 
strike down one South African man fight- 
ing for freedom, we would take this right 
hand and hold it in the fire till nothing 
was left of it but a charred and blackened 
bone." It was not Olive Schreiner's right 
hand which she sacrificed in her loyalty to 
the South African colonies, but the book 
into which she had compressed all the 
study, the thought and the dreams of 
many years; — not a personal loss, but a 
world loss. 

When, months later, she was held a 
prisoner of war, in a little house on the 
outskirts of an African village, guarded 
by armed natives, her home looted and all 
her papers destroyed, Olive Schreiner be- 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

gan resolutely in the semi-darkness of her 
shuttered room to reconstruct from mem- 
ory one chapter of the lost volume. The 
picture is symbolic of woman's position 
to-day. In all that clash and horror of 
man's destructiveness, one of the greatest 
women of her time, powerless to stop the 
whirr of a single bullet, patiently and 
heroically going about her work of recon- 
struction I 

" Woman and Labour," the book which 
resulted from this imprisonment, has one 
advantage perhaps over the original vol- 
ume. The manuscript in ashes was writ- 
ten for the student and the thinker. This 
brief remembrance is an emotional appeal 
to the whole reading world of men and 
women. Rapidly the pictures of woman's 
life on earth are presented, from a 
glimpse of the savage mother wandering 
freely by man's side, through the several 
stages of growing dependence, until at 



xvui INTRODUCTION 

the end, clearly, as in her visions of old, 
Olive Schreiner foresees the day when 
woman, freed entirely from her centuries 
of toiling servitude and deadly parasitism, 
stands beside man in the control and gov- 
ernment of modem life. Then, she de- 
clares, and not until then, war will cease. 
" The thought would never come to us as 
women, ' Cast in men's bodies, settle the 
thing so.' " For woman " knows the his- 
tory of human flesh; she knows its cost; 
man does not." 

" Tell me what a man dreams, and I 
will tell you what he loves," says Olive 
Schreiner. In the most beautiful of all 
her allegories, " A Dream of Wild Bees," 
the author has revealed to us what she 
loves, and it explains her own deviations 
from the beaten paths of literature. " For 
the man I touch there is a path traced out 
in the sand by a finger which no man 
sees," says the spirit of genius in this per- 



INTRODUCTION xix 

feet allegory. " That he must follow. . . . 
When he runs with others, they shall reach 
the goal before him. For strange voices 
shall call to him and strange lights shall 
beckon him, and he must wait and listen." 
The author of these " Dreams " has 
waited and listened. She has seen, across 
the burning sands of woman's unrest, the 
blue waters of a new ideal, — men and 
women dwelling together hand in hand as 
equal lovers and fellow workers. She has 
visioned that ideal In all the glory of im- 
aginative prose, and it is becoming real to 
us. 

Amy Wellington. 



NOTE 



^T'HESE Dreams are printed in the order 

in which they were written. 

In the case of two there was a lapse of 

some years between the writing of the first 

and last parts ; these are placed according to 

the date of the first part. 

Olive Schreiner. 

Matjesfontein, 
Cape Colony, 
South Africa. 
November, 1890. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 




PAGE 


I. 


The Lost Joy 


I 


II. 


The Hunter 

(From " The Story of an African Farm."; 


II 


III. 


The Gardens of Pleasure . 


39 


IV. 


In a Far - off World . 


43 


V. 


Three Dreams in a Desert 


SI 


VI. 


A Dream of Wild Bees 
(Written as a letter to a friend.) 


71 


VII. 


In a Ruined Chapel 


81 


VIII. 


Life's Gifts 


97 


DC. 


The Artist's Secret 


lOI 


X. 


I Thought I Stood 


107 


XI. 


The Sunlight Lay across My 






Bed 


"S 



■,^ 



THE LOST JOY 



DREAMS 



THE LOST JOY 

ALL day, where the sunlight played 
on the sea-shore, Life sat. 
All day the soft wind played 
with her hair, and the young, young face 
looked out across the water. She was 
waiting — she was waiting; but she could 
not tell for what. 

All day the waves ran up and up on the 
sand, and ran back again, and the pink 
shells rolled. Life sat waiting; all day, 
with the sunlight in her eyes, she sat there, 
till, grown weary, she laid her head upon 
her knee and fell asleep, waiting still. 



THE LOST JOY 



Then a keel grated on the sand, and 
then a step was on the shore — Life awoke 
and heard it. A hand was laid upon her, 
and a great shudder passed through her. 
She looked up, and saw over her the 
strange, wide eyes of Love — and Life 
now knew for whom she had sat there 
waiting. 

And Love drew Life up to him. 

And of that meeting was born a thing 
rare and beautiful — Joy, First- Joy was 
it called. The sunlight when it shines 
upon the merry water is not so glad; the 
rosebuds, when they turn back their lips 
for the sun's first kiss, are not so ruddy. 
Its tiny pulses beat quick. It was so warm, 
so soft! It never spoke, but It laughed 
and played In the sunshine : and Love and 
Life rejoiced exceedingly. Neither whis- 
pered It to the other, but deep in its own 
heart each said, " It shall be ours for 
ever." 



TEE LOST JOY 



Then there came a time — was it after 
weeks? was It after months? (Love and 
Life do not measure time) — when the 
thing was not as it had been. 

Still it played; still it laughed; still it 
stained its mouth with purple berries; but 
sometimes the little hands hung weary, and 
the little eyes looked out heavily across 
the water. 

And Life and Love dared not look into 
each other's eyes, dared not say, " What 
ails our darling?" Each heart whispered 
to itself, " It is nothing, it is nothing, to- 
morrow it will laugh out dear," But to- 
morrow and to-morrow came. They jour- 
neyed on, and the child played beside them, 
but heavily, more heavily. 

One day Life and Love lay down to 
sleep ; and when they awoke, it was gone : 
only, near them, on the grass, sat a little 
stranger, with wide-open eyes, very soft 
and sad. Neither noticed it; but they 



6 THE LOST JOY 

walked apart, weeping bitterly, " Oh, our 
Joyl our lost Joy I shall we see you no 
more for ever?" 

The little soft and sad-eyed stranger 
slipped a hand into one hand of each, and 
drew them closer, and Life and Love 
walked on with it between them. And 
when Life looked down in anguish, she 
saw her tears reflected in its soft eyes. 
And when Love, mad with pain, cried 
out, " I am weary, I am weary I I can 
journey no further. The light is all be- 
hind, the dark is all before," a little rosy 
finger pointed where the sunlight lay upon 
the hill-sides. Always its large eyes were 
sad and thoughtful: always the little 
brave mouth was smiling quietly. 

When on the sharp stones Life cut her 
feet, he wiped the blood upon his gar- 
ments, and kissed the wounded feet with 
his little lips. When in the desert Love 
lay down faint (for Love itself grows 



THE LOST JOY 



faint), he ran over the hot sand with his 
little naked feet, and even there in the 
desert found water in the holes in the 
rocks to moisten Love's lips with. He 
was no burden — he never weighted them ; 
he only helped them forward on their 
journey. 

When they came to the dark ravine 
where the icicles hang from the rocks — 
for Love and Life must pass through 
strange drear places — there, where all is 
cold, and the snow lies thick, he took their 
freezing hands and held them against his 
beating little heart, and warmed them — 
and softly he drew them on and on. 

And when they came beyond, into the 
land of sunshine and flowers, strangely the 
great eyes lit up, and dimples broke out 
upon the face. Brightly laughing, it ran 
over the soft grass; gathered honey from 
the hollow tree, and brought it them on 
the palm of its hand; carried them water 



8 THE LOST JOY 

In the leaves of the lily, and gathered 
flowers and wreathed them round their 
heads, softly laughing all the while. He 
touched them as their Joy had touched 
them, but his fingers clung more ten- 
derly. 

So they wandered on, through the dark 
lands and the light, always with that little 
brave smiling one between them. Some- 
times they remembered that first radiant 
Joy, and whispered to themselves, " Oh I 
could we but find him also I " 

At last they came to where Reflection 
sits; that strange old woman who has 
always one elbow on her knee, and her 
chin in her hand, and who steals light out 
of the past to shed it on the future. 

And Life and Love cried out, " O 
wise one I tell us: when first we met, a 
lovely radiant thing belonged to us — 
gladness without a tear, sunshine without 
a shade. Oh! how did we sin that we 



THE LOST JOY 9 

lost it? Where shall we go that we may 
find It?" 

And she, the wise old woman, answered, 
" To have it back, will you give up that 
which walks beside you now? " 

And in agony Love and Life cried, 
"No I" 

"Give up this!" said Life. "When 
the thorns have pierced me, who will suck 
the poison out? When my head throbs, 
who will lay his tiny hands upon it and 
still the beating? In the cold and the 
dark, who will warm my freezing heart? " 

And Love cried out, " Better let me 
die! Without Joy I can live; without 
this I cannot. Let me rather die, not 
lose it 1" 

And the wise old woman answered, " O 
fools and blind! What you once had is 
that which you have now! When Love 
and Life first meet, a radiant thing is born, 
without a shade. When the roads begin 



10 TEE LOST JOY 

to roughen, when the shades begin to 
darken, when the days are hard, and the 
nights cold and long — then it begins to 
change. Love and Life will not see it, 
will not know it — till one day they start 
up suddenly, crying, ' O God ! O God ! 
we have lost it I Where is it?' They do 
not understand that they could not carry 
the laughing thing unchanged into the des- 
ert, and the frost, and the snow. They 
do not know that what walks beside them 
still is the Joy grown older. The grave, 
sweet, tender thing — warm in the cold- 
est snows, brave in the dreariest deserts — 
its name is Sympathy; it is the Perfect 
Love." 

South Africa. 



THE HUNTER 



THE HUNTER 

IN certain valleys there was a hunter. 
Day by day he went to hunt for wild- 
fowl in the woods; and it chanced 
that once he stood on the shores of a large 
lake. While he stood waiting in the 
rushes for the coming of the birds, a great 
shadow fell on him, and in the water he 
saw a reflection. He looked up to the 
sky; but the thing was gone. Then a 
burning desire came over him to see once 
again that reflection in the water, and all 
day he watched and waited; but night 
came, and it had not returned. Then he 
went home with his empty bag, moody and 
silent. His comrades came questioning 
about him to know the reason, but he an- 
swered them nothing; he sat alone and 



14 THE HUNTER 

brooded. Then his friend came to him, 
and to him he spoke. 

" I have seen to-day," he said, " that 
which I never saw before — a vast white 
bird, with silver wings outstretched, sail- 
ing in the everlasting blue. And now it 
is as though a great fire burnt within my 
breast. It was but a sheen, a shimmer, 
a reflection in the water; but now I desire 
nothing more on earth than to hold her." 

His friend laughed. 

" It was but a beam playing on the 
water, or the shadow of your own head. 
To-morrow you will forget her," he said. 

But to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to- 
morrow the hunter walked alone. He 
sought in the forest and in the woods, by 
the lakes and among the rushes, but he 
could not find her. He shot no more wild- 
fowl; what were they to him? 

" What ails him ? " said his comrades. 

" He is mad," said one. 



THE HUNTER 15 

" No, but he is worse," said another; 
" he would see that which none of us have 
seen, and make himself a wonder." 

*' Come, let us forswear his company," 
said all. 

So the hunter walked alone. 

One night, as he wandered in the shade, 
very heart-sore and weeping, an old man 
stood before him, grander and taller than 
the sons of men. 

"Who are you?" asked the hunter. 

" I am Wisdom," answered the old 
man; "but some men called me Knowl- 
edge. All my life I have grown in these 
valleys; but no man sees me till he has 
sorrowed much. The eyes must be washed 
with tears that are to behold me; and, 
according as a man has suffered, I speak." 

And the hunter cried — 

" Oh, you who have lived here so long, 
tell me, what is that great wild bird I have 
seen sailing in the blue? They would 



16 THE HUNTER 

have me believe she is a dream ; the shadow 
of my own head." 

The old man smiled. 

" Her name is Truth. He who has 
once seen her never rests again. Till death 
he desires her." 

And the hunter cried — 

" Oh, tell me where I may find her." 

But the man said, 

" You have not suffered enough," and 
went. 

Then the hunter took from his breast 
the shuttle of Imagination, and wound on 
it the thread of his Wishes; and all night 
he sat and wove a net. 

In the morning he spread the golden 
net open on the ground, and into it he 
threw a few grains of credulity, which his 
father had left him, and which he kept in 
his breast-pocket. They were like white 
puff-balls, and when you trod on them a 
brown dust flew out. Then he sat by to 



THE HUNTER 17 

see what would happen. The first that 
came Into the net was a snow-white bird, 
with dove's eyes, and he sang a beautiful 
song — "A human-God 1 a human-God ! 
a human-God I " it sang. The second that 
came was black and mystical, with dark, 
lovely eyes, that looked into the depths of 
your soul, and he sang only this — " Im- 
mortality ! " 

And the hunter took them both in his 
arms, for he said — 

" They are surely of the beautiful fam- 
ily of Truth." 

Then came another, green and gold, 
who sang in a shrill voice, like one crying 
in the market-place, — " Reward after 
Death I Reward after Death 1 " 

And he said — 

"You are not so fair; but you are fair 
too," and he took it. 

And others came, brightly coloured, 
singing pleasant songs, till all the grains 



18 TEE HUNTER 

were finished. And the hunter gathered 
all his birds together, and built a strong 
iron cage called a new creed, and put all 
his birds in it. 

Then the people came about dancing 
and singing. 

" Oh, happy hunter 1 " they cried. " Oh, 
wonderful man! Oh, delightful birds! 
Oh, lovely songs I " 

No one asked where the birds had come 
from, nor how they had been caught; but 
they danced and sang before them. And 
the hunter too was glad, for he said — 

" Surely Truth is among them. In time 
she will moult her feathers, and I shall 
see her snow-white form." 

But the time passed, and the people 
sang and danced; but the hunter's heart 
grew heavy. He crept alone, as of old, 
to weep ; the terrible desire had awakened 
again in his breast. One day, as he sat 
alone weeping. It chanced that Wisdom 



THE HUNTER 19 

met him. He told the old man what he 
had done. 

And Wisdom smiled sadly. 

" Many men," he said, " have spread 
that net for Truth; but they have never 
found her. On the grains of credulity she 
will not feed ; in the net of wishes her feet 
cannot be held ; in the air of these valleys 
she will not breathe. The birds you have 
caught are of the brood of Lies. Lovely 
and beautiful, but still lies; Truth knows 
them not." 

And the hunter cried out in bitterness — 

" And must I then sit still to be de- 
voured of this great burning? " 

And the old man said — 

" Listen, and in that you have suffered 
much and wept much, I will tell you what 
I know. He who sets out to search for 
Truth must leave these valleys of supersti- 
tion for ever, taking with him not one 
shred that has belonged to them. Alone 



20 THE HUNTER 

he must wander down into the Land of 
Absolute Negation and Denial; he must 
abide there; he must resist temptation; 
when the light breaks he must arise and 
follow it into the country of dry sunshine. 
The mountains of stern reality will rise 
before him; he must climb them; beyond 
them lies Truth." 

"And he will hold her fasti he will 
hold her in his hands 1 " the hunter cried. 

Wisdom shook his head. 

" He will never see her, never hold her. 
The time is not yet." 

" Then there is no hope ? " cried the 
hunter. 

" There is this," said Wisdom. " Some 
men have climbed on those mountains; 
circle above circle of bare rock they have 
scaled; and, wandering there, in those 
high regions, some have chanced to pick 
up on the ground, one white, silver feather 
dropped from the wing of Truth. And 



THE HUNTER 21 

it shall come to pass," said the old man, 
raising himself prophetically and pointing 
with his finger to the sky, " it shall come 
to pass, that, when enough of those silver 
feathers shall have been gathered by the 
hands of men, and shall have been woven 
into a cord, and the cord into a net, that 
in that net Truth may be captured. Noth- 
ing but Truth can hold Truth," 

The hunter arose. " I will go," he said. 

But Wisdom detained him. 

" Mark you well — who leaves these 
valleys never returns to them. Though 
he should weep tears of blood seven days 
and nights upon the confines, he can never 
put his foot across them. Left — they 
are left for ever. Upon the road which 
you would travel there is no reward of- 
fered. Who goes, goes freely — for the 
great love that is in him. The work is his 
reward." 

" I go," said the hunter; " but upon the 



22 TEE HUNTER 

mountains, tell me, which path shall I 
take?" 

" I am the child of The-Accumulated- 
Knowledge-of-Ages," said the man; "I 
can walk only where many men have trod- 
den. On these mountains few feet have 
passed; each man strikes out a path for 
himself. He goes at his own peril: my 
voice he hears no more. I may follow 
after him, but I cannot go beiore him." 
Then Knowledge vanished. 
And the hunter turned. He went to his 
cage, and with his hands broke down the 
bars, and the jagged iron tore his flesh. 
It is sometimes easier to build than to 
break. 

One by one he took his plumed birds 
and let them fly. But, when he came to 
his dark-plumed bird, he held it, and 
looked into its beautiful eyes, and the bird 
uttered Its low deep cry — "Immortal- 
ity!" 



THE HUNTER 23 

And he said quickly, " I cannot part 
with it. It is not heavy; it eats no food. 
I will hide it in my breast: I will take it 
with me." And he buried it there, and 
covered it over with his cloak. 

But the thing he had hidden grew heav- 
ier, heavier, heavier — till it lay on his 
breast like lead. He could not move with 
it. He could not leave those valleys with 
it. Then again he took it out and looked 
at it. 

" Oh, my beautiful, my heart's own I " 
he cried, " may I not keep you? " 

He opened his hands sadly. 

" Go," he said. " It may happen that 
in Truth's song one note is like to yours; 
but / shall never hear it." 

Sadly he opened his hand, and the bird 
flew from him for ever. 

Then from the shuttle of Imagination 
he took the thread of his wishes, and 
threw it on the ground; and the empty 



24 TEE HUNTER 

shuttle he put Into his breast, for the, 
thread was made in those valleys, but the 
shuttle came from an unknown country. 
He turned to go, but now the people came 
about him, howling. 

" Fool, hound, demented lunatic 1 " they 
cried. " How dared you break your cage 
and let the birds fly?" 

The hunter spoke; but they would not 
hear him, 

" Truth I who is she? Can you eat her? 
can you drink her? Who has ever seen 
her? Your birds were real: all could hear 
them sing! Oh, fool! vile reptile! athe- 
ist I " they cried, " you pollute the air." 

" Come, let us take up stones and stone 
him," cried some. 

" What affair is it of ours? " said others. 
" Let the idiot go; " and went away. But 
the rest gathered up stones and mud and 
threw at him. At last, when he was 
bruised and cut, the hunter crept away into 



THE HUNTER 25 

the woods. And it was evening about 
him. 

He wandered on and on, and the shade 
grew deeper. He was on the borders now 
of the land where it is always night. Then 
he stepped into It, and there was no light 
there. With his hands he groped; but 
each branch as he touched it broke off, 
and the earth was covered with cinders. 
At every step his foot sank in, and a fine 
cloud of impalpable ashes flew up Into his 
face; and it was dark. So he sat down 
upon a stone and buried his face In his 
hands, to wait In that Land of Negation 
and Denial till the light came. 

And It was night In his heart also. 

Then from the marshes to his right and 
left cold mists arose and closed about him. 
A fine, Imperceptible rain fell In the dark, 
and great drops gathered on his hair and 
clothes. His heart beat slowly, and a 
numbness crept through all his limbs. 



26 THE HUNTER 

Then, looking up, two merry wisp lights 
came dancing. He lifted his head to look 
at them. Nearer, nearer they came. So 
warm, so bright, they danced like stars of 
fire. They stood before him at last. From 
the centre of the radiating flame in one 
looked out a woman's face, laughing, dim- 
pled, with streaming yellow hair. In the 
centre of the other were merry laughing 
ripples, like the bubbles on a glass of wine. 
They danced before him. 

"Who are you," asked the hunter, 
" who alone come to me in my solitude 
and darkness ? " 

" We are the twins Sensuality," they 
cried. " Our father's name is Human- 
Nature, and our mother's name is Excess. 
We are as old as the hills and rivers, as 
old as the first man; but we never die," 
they laughed. 

" Oh, let me wrap my arms about you ! " 
cried the first; "they are soft and warm. 



THE HUNTER 27 

Your heart is frozen now, but I will make 
it beat. Oh, come to me 1 " 

" I will pour my hot life Into you," said 
the second; "your brain is numb, and 
your limbs are dead now; but they shall 
live with a fierce free life. Oh, let me pour 
it in!" 

" Oh, follow us," they cried, '* and live 
with us. Nobler hearts than yours have 
sat here in this darkness to wait, and they 
have come to us and we to them ; and they 
have never left us, never. All else is a 
delusion, but we are real, we are real. 
Truth is a shadow; the valleys of super- 
stition are a farce; the earth is of ashes, 
the trees all rotten ; but we — feel us — 
we livel You cannot doubt us. Feel us, 
how warm we are! Oh, come to us! 
Come with us ! " 

Nearer and nearer round his head they 
hovered, and the cold drops melted on his 
forehead. The bright light shot into his 



28 THE BUNTER 

eyes, dazzling him, and the frozen blood 
began to run. And he said — 

"Yes; why should I die here in this 
awful darkness? They are warm, they 
melt my frozen blood 1 " and he stretched 
out his hands to take them. 

Then in a moment there arose be- 
fore him the image of the thing he had 
loved, and his hand dropped to his 
side. 

" Oh, come to us! " they cried. 

But he buried his face. 

" You dazzle my eyes," he cried, " you 
msrice my heart warm ; but you cannot give 
me what I desire. I will wait here — 
wait till I die. Go!" 

He covered his face with his hands and 
would not listen; and when he looked up 
again they were two twinkling stars, that 
vanished in the distance. 

And the long, long night rolled on. 

All who leave the valley of superstition 



THE HUNTER 29 

pass through that dark land; but some go 
through it in a few days, some linger there 
for months, some for years, and some die 
there. 

At last for the hunter a faint light 
played along the horizon, and he rose to 
follow it; and he reached that light at 
last, and stepped into the broad sunshine. 
Then before him rose the almighty moun- 
tains of Dry-facts and Realities. The 
clear sunshine played on them, and the 
tops were lost in the clouds. At the foot 
many paths ran up. An exultant cry burst 
from the hunter. He chose the straightest 
and began to climb; and the rocks and 
ridges resounded with his song. They 
had exaggerated; after all, it was not so 
high, nor was the road so steep! A few 
days, a few weeks, a few months at most, 
and then the top! Not one feather only 
would he pick up; he would gather all 
that other men had found — weave the 



30 TEE HUNTER 

net — capture Truth — hold her fast — 
touch her with his hands — clasp her I 

He laughed In the merry sunshine, and 
sang loud. Victory was very near. Nev- 
ertheless, after a while the path grew 
steeper. He needed all his breath for 
climbing, and the singing died away. On 
the right and left rose huge rocks, devoid 
of lichen or moss, and in the lava-like 
earth chasms yawned. Here and there he 
saw a sheen of white bones. Now too the 
path began to grow less and less marked; 
then it became a mere trace, with a foot- 
mark here and there; then it ceased alto- 
gether. He' sang no more, but struck 
forth a path for himself, until he reached 
a mighty wall of rock, smooth and with- 
out break', stretching as far as the eye 
could see. " I will rear a stair against 
It; and, once this wall climbed, I shall 
be almost there," he said bravely; and 
worked. With his shuttle of Imagination 



THE HUNTER 31 

he dug out stones ; but half of them would 
not fit, and half a month's work would roll 
down because those below were ill chosen. 
But the hunter worked on, saying always 
to himself, " Once this wall climbed, I 
shall be almost there. This great work 
ended I" 

At last he came out upon the top, and 
he looked about him. Far below rolled 
the white mist over the valleys of super- 
stition, and above him towered the moun- 
tains. They had seemed low before ; they 
were of an immeasurable height now, from 
crown to foundation surrounded by walls 
of rock, that rose tier above tier in mighty 
circles. Upon them played the eternal sun- 
shine. He uttered a wild cry. He bowed 
himself on fo the earth, and when he rose 
his face was white. In absolute silence he 
walked on. He was very silent now. In 
those high regions the rarefied air is hard 
to breathe by those born in the valleys; 



32 THE HUNTER 

every breath he drew hurt him, and the 
blood oozed out from the tips of his fin- 
gers. Before the next wall of rock he 
began to work. The height of this seemed 
infinite, and he said nothing. The sound 
of his tool rang night and day upon the 
iron rocks into which he cut steps. Years 
passed over him, yet he worked on; but 
the wall towered up always above him to 
heaven. Sometimes he prayed that a little 
moss or lichen might spring up on those 
bare walls to be a companion to him; but 
it never came. 

And the years rolled on: he counted 
them by the steps he had cut — a few for 
a year — only a few. He sang no more; 
he said no more, " I will do this or 
that " — he only worked. And at night, 
when the twilight settled down, there 
looked out at him from the holes and 
crevices in the rocks strange wijd 
faces. 



THE HUNTER 33 

" Stop your work, you lonely man, and 
speak to us," they cried. 

" My salvation is in work. If I should 
stop but for one moment you would creep 
down upon me," he replied. And they 
put out their long necks further, 

" Look down into the crevice at your 
feet," they said. "See what lie there — 
white bones 1 As brave and strong a man 
as you climbed to these rocks. And he 
looked up. He saw there was no use in 
striving; he would never hold Truth, 
never see her, never find her. So he lay 
down here, for he was very tired. He 
went to sleep for ever. He put himself 
to sleep. Sleep is very tranquil. You are 
not lonely when you are asleep, neither do 
your hands ache, nor your heart." And 
the hunter laughed between his teeth. 

" Have I torn from my heart all that 
was dearest; have I wandered alone in 
the land of night; have I resisted tempta- 



34 TEE HUNTER 

tion; have I dwelt where the voice of my 
kind is never heard, and laboured alone, to 
lie down and be' food for you, ye harpies? " 

He laughed fiercely; and the Echoes of 
Despair slunk away, for the laugh of a 
brave, strong heart is as a death-blow to 
them. 

Nevertheless they crept out again and 
looked at him. 

" Do you know that your hair is 
white? " they said, " that your hands begin 
to tremble like a child's? Do you see that 
the point of your shuttle is gone? — it is 
cracked already. If you should ever climb 
this stair," they said, " it will be your last. 
You will never climb anotherJ' 

And he answered, " / know it! " and 
worked on. 

The old, thin hands cut the stones ill 
and jaggedly, for the fingers were stiff and 
bent. The beauty and the strength of the 
man was gone. 



THE HUNTER 35 

At last, an old, wizened, shrunken face 
looked out above the rocks. It saw 
the eternal mountains rise with walls to 
the white clouds; but its work was 
done. 

The old hunter folded his tired hands 
and lay down by the precipice where he 
had worked away his life. It was the 
sleeping time at last. Below him over the 
valleys rolled the thick white mist. Once 
it broke; and through the gap the dying 
eyes looked down on the trees and fields 
of their childhood. From afar seemed 
borne to him the cry of his own wild birds, 
and he heard the noise of people singing 
as they danced. And he thought he heard 
among them the voices of his old com- 
rades; and he saw far off the sunlight 
shine on his early home. And great tears 
gathered in the hunter's eyes. 

"Ah! they who die there do not die 
alone," he cried. 



36 THE HUNTER 

Then the mists rolled together again; 
and he turned his eyes away. 

" I have sought," he said, " for long 
years I have laboured; but I have not 
found her. I have not rested, I have not 
repined, and I have not seen her; now 
my strength is gone. Where I lie down 
worn out, other men will stand, young and 
fresh. By the steps that I have cut they 
will climb ; by the stairs that I have built, 
they will mount. They will never know 
the name of the man who made them. At 
the clumsy work they will laugh; when 
the stones roll they will curse me. But 
they will mount, and on my work; they 
will climb, and by my stair! They will 
find her, and through mel And no man 
liveth to himself, and no man dieth to 
himself." 

The tears rolled from beneath the shriv- 
elled eyelids. If Truth had appeared 
above him in the clouds now he could not 



THE HUNTER 37 

have seen her, the mist of death was In 
his eyes. 

" My soul hears their glad step com- 
ing," he said; "and they shall mount! 
they shall mount! " He raised his shriv- 
elled hand to his eyes. 

Then slowly from the white sky above, 
through the still air, came something fall- 
ing, falling, falling. Softly it fluttered 
down, and dropped on to the breast of the 
dying man. He felt it with his hands. It 
was a feather. He died holding it. 



THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE 



THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE 

SHE walked upon the beds, and the 
sweet rich scent arose ; and she gath- 
ered her hands full of flowers. 
Then Duty, with his white clear features, 
came and looked at her. Then she ceased 
from gathering, but she walked away 
among the flowers, smiling, and with her 
hands full. 

Then Duty, with his still white face, 
came again, and looked at her; but she, 
she turned her head away from him. At 
last she saw his face, and she dropped the 
fairest of the flowers she had held, and 
walked silently away. 

Then again he came to her. And she 
moaned, and bent her head low, and turned 
to the gate. But as she went out she 



42 THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE 

looked back at the sunlight on the faces of 
the flowers, and wept in anguish. Then 
she went out, and it shut behind her for 
ever; but still in her hand she held of the 
buds she had gathered, and the scent was 
very sweet in the lonely desert. 

But he followed her. Once more he 
stood before her with his still, white, 
death-like face. And she knew what he 
had come for: she unbent the fingers, and 
let the flowers drop out, the flowers she 
had loved so, and walked on without them, 
with dry, aching eyes. Then for the last 
time he came. And she showed him her 
empty hands, the hands that held nothing 
now. But still he looked. Then at length 
she opened her bosom and took out of it 
one small flower she had hidden there, and 
laid it on the sand. She had nothing more 
to give now, and she wandered away, and 
the grey sand whirled about her. 



IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 



IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 

THERE is a world in one of the 
far-off stars, and things do not 
happen here as they happen there. 

In that world were a man and woman; 
they had one work, and they walked to- 
gether side by side on many days, and 
were friends — and that is a thing that 
happens now and then in this world also. 

But there was something in that star- 
world that there is not here. There was 
a thick wood: where the trees grew clos- 
est, and the stems were interlocked, and 
the summer sun never shone, there stood 
a shrine. In the day all was quiet, but at- 
night, when the stars shone or the moon 
glinted on the tree-tops, and all was quiet 
below, if one crept here quite alone and 



46 IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 

knelt on the steps of the stone altar, and 
uncovering one's breast, so wounded it 
that the blood fell down on the altar steps, 
then whatever he who knelt there wished 
for was granted him. And all this hap- 
pens, as I said, because it is a far-off world, 
and things often happen there as they do 
not happen here. 

Now, the man and woman walked to- 
gether; and the woman wished well to 
the man. One night when the moon was 
shining so that the leaves of all the trees 
glinted, and the waves of the sea were 
silvery, the woman walked alone to the 
forest. It was dark there; the moonlight 
fell only in little flecks on the dead leaves 
under her feet, and the branches were 
knotted tight overhead. Farther in it got 
darker, not even a fleck of moonlight 
shone. Then she came to the shrine ; she 
knelt down before it and prayed; there 
came no answer. Then she uncovered her 



IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 47 

breast; with a sharp two-edged stone that 
lay there she wounded it. The drops 
dripped slowly down on to the stone, and 
a voice cried, " What do you seek? " 

She answered, " There is a man; I hold 
him nearer than anything. I would give 
him the best of all blessings." 

The voice said, " What is it? " 

The girl said, " I know not, but that 
which is most good for him I wish him to 
have." 

The voice said, " Your prayer is an- 
swered; he shall have it." 

Then she stood up. She covered her 
breast and held the garment tight upon it 
with her hand, and ran out of the forest, 
and the dead leaves fluttered under her 
feet. Out in the moonlight the soft air 
was blowing, and the sand glittered on the 
beach. She ran along the smooth shore, 
then suddenly she stood still. Out across 
the water there was something moving. 



48 IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 

She shaded her eyes and looked. It was 
a boat; it was sliding swiftly over the 
moonlit water out to sea. One stood up- 
right in it ; the face the moonlight did not 
show, but the figure she knew. It was 
passing swiftly; it seemed as if no one 
propelled it; the moonlight's shimmer did 
not let her see clearly, and the boat was 
far from shore, but it seemed almost as 
if there was another figure sitting in the 
stern. Faster and faster it glided over the 
water away, away. She ran along the 
shore; she came no nearer it. The gar- 
ment she had held closed fluttered open; 
she stretched out her arms, and the moon- 
light shone on her long loos? hair. 

Then a voice beside her whispered, 
"What is it?" 

She cried, " With my blood I bought 
the best of all gifts for him. I have come 
to bring it him I He is going from me ! " 

The voice whispered softly, " Your 



IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 49 

prayer was answered. It has been given 
him." 

She cried, "What is It?" 

The voice answered, " It is that he 
might leave you." 

The girl stood still. 

Far out at sea the boat was lost to sight 
beyond the moonlight sheen. 

The voice spoke softly, " Art thou con- 
tented?" 

She said, " I am contented." 

At her feet the waves broke in long 
ripples softly on the shore. 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

UNDER A MIMOSA - TREE 

AS I travelled across an African 
plain the sun shone down hotly. 
Then I drew my horse up under 
a mimosa-tree, and I took the saddle from 
him and left him to feed among the 
parched bushes. And all to right and to 
left stretched the brown earth. And I sat 
down under the tree, because the heat beat 
fiercely, and all along the horizon the air 
throbbed. And after a while a heavy 
drowsiness came over me, and I laid my 
head down against my saddle, and I fell 
asleep there. And, in my sleep, I had a 
crrious dream. 



54 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

I thought I stood on the border of a 
great desert, and the sand blew about 
everywhere. And I thought I saw two 
great figures like beasts of burden of the 
desert, and one lay upon the sand with 
its neck stretched out, and one stood by it. 
And I looked curiously at the one that lay 
upon the ground, for it had a great burden 
on its back, and the sand was thick about 
it, so that it seemed to have piled over it 
for centuries. 

And I looked very curiously at it. And 
there stood one beside me watching. And 
I said to him, " What is this huge creature 
who lies here on the sand? " 

And he said, " This is woman; she that 
bears men in her body." 

And I said, "Why does she He here 
motionless with the sand piled round 
her?" 

And he answered, "Listen, I will tell 
you I Ages and ages long she has lain 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 55 

here, and the wind has blown over her. 
The oldest, oldest, oldest man living has 
never seen her move: the oldest, oldest 
book records that she lay here then, as she 
lies here now, with the sand about her. 
But listen 1 Older than the oldest book, 
older than the oldest recorded memory of 
man, on the Rocks of Language, on the 
hard-baked clay of Ancient Customs, now 
crumbling to 'decay, are found the marks 
of her footsteps! Side by side with his 
who stands beside her you may trace them ; 
and you know that she who now lies there 
once wandered free over the rocks with 
him." 

And I said, " Why does she lie there 
now?" 

And he said, " I take it, ages ago the 
Age-of-dominion-of-muscular-force found 
her, and when she stooped low to give 
suck to her young, and her back was broad, 
he put his burden of subjection on to it. 



56 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

and tied it on with the broad band of In- 
evitable Necessity. Then she looked at 
the earth and the sky, and knew there was 
no hope for her; and she lay down on the 
sand with the burden she could not loosen. 
Ever since she has lain here. And the ages 
have come, and the ages have gone, but 
the band of Inevitable Necessity has not 
been cut." 

And I looked and saw in her eyes the 
terrible patience of the centuries; the 
ground was wet with her tears, and her 
nostrils blew up the sand. 

And I said, " Has she ever tried to 
move?" 

And he said, " Sometimes a limb has 
quivered. But she is wise ; she knows she 
cannot rise with the burden on her." 

And I said, " Why does not he who 
stands by her leave her and go on? " 

And he said, " He cannot. Look ^ " 

And I saw a broad band passing along 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 57 

the ground from one to the other, and it 
bound them together. 

He said, " While she lies there he must 
stand and look across the desert." 

And I said, " Does he know why he 
cannot move ? " 

And he said, " No." 

And I heard a sound of something 
cracking, and I looked, and I saw the band 
that bound the burden on to her back 
broken asunder; and the burden rolled on 
to the ground. 

And I said, "What is this?" 

And he said, " The Age-of-muscular- 
force is dead. The Age-of-nervous-force 
has killed him with the knife he holds in 
his hand; and silently and invisibly he has 
crept up to the woman, and with that knife 
of Mechanical Invention he has cut the 
band that bound the burden to her back. 
The Inevitable Necessity is broken. She 
might rise now." 



58 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

And I saw that she still lay motionless 
on the sand, with her eyes open and her 
neck stretched out. And she seemed to 
look for something on the far-off border 
of the desert that never came. And I won- 
dered if she were awake or asleep. And 
as I looked her body quivered, and a light 
came into her eyes, like when a sunbeam 
breaks into a dark room. 

I said, "What is it?" 

He whispered, "Hush I the thought 
has come to her, ' Might I not rise? ' " 

And I looked. And she raised her head 
from the sand, and I saw the dent where 
her neck had lain so long. And she looked 
at the earth, and she looked at the sky, 
and she looked at him who stood by her: 
but he looked out across the desert. 

And I saw her body quiver; and she 
pressed her front knees to the earth, and 
veins stood out; and I cried, "She is go- 
ing to rise I " 



THREE DREAMS, IN A DESERT 59 

But only her sides heaved, and she lay 
still where she was. 

But her head she held up; she did not 
lay it down again. And he beside me said, 
" She is very weak. See, her legs have 
been crushed under her so long." 

And I saw the creature struggle: and 
the drops stood out on her. 

And I said, " Surely he who stands be- 
side her will help her? " 

And he beside me answered, " He can- 
not help her: she must help herself. Let 
her struggle till she is strong." 

And I cried, " At least he will not hin- 
der her I See, he moves farther from her, 
and tightens the cord between them, and 
he drags her down." 

And he answered, " He does not under- 
stand. When she moves she draws the 
band that binds them, and hurts him, and 
he moves farther from her. The day will 
come when he will understand and will 



60 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

know what she is doing. Let her once 
stagger on to her knees. In that day he 
will stand close to her, and look into her 
eyes with sympathy." 

And she stretched her neck, and the 
drops fell from her. And the creature 
rose an inch from the earth and sank 
back. 

And I cried, " Oh, she is too weak ! she 
cannot walkl The long years have^ taken 
all her strength from her. Can she never 
move? " 

And he answered me, " See the light in 
her eyes ! " 

And slowly the creature staggered on to 
its knees. 

And I awoke: and all to the east and 
to the west stretched the barren earth, 
with the dry bushes on it. The ants ran 
up and down in the red sand, and the heat 
beat fiercely. I looked up through the thin 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 61 

branches of the tree at the blue sky over- 
head. I stretched myself, and I mused 
oyer the dream I had had. And I fell 
asleep again, with my head on my saddle. 
And in the fierce heat I had another 
dream. 

I saw a desert and I saw a woman com- 
ing out of it. And she came to the bank 
of a dark river; and the bank was steep 
and high.^ And on it an old man met 
her, who had a long white beard; and a 
stick that curled was in his hand, and on 
it was written Reason. And he asked her 
what she wanted; and she said "I am 
woman; and I am seeking for the land of 
Freedom." 
And he said, " It is before you." 
And she said, " I see nothing before me 
but a dark flowing river, and a bank steep 

• The banks of an African river are sometimes a hun- 
dred feet high, and consist of deep shifting sands, through 
which in the course of ages the river has worn its gigan- 
tic bed. 



62 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

and high, and cuttings here and there with 
heavy sand in them." 
And he said, " And beyond that? " 
She said, " I see nothing, but sometimes, 
when I shade my eyes with my hand, I 
think I see on the further bank trees and 
hills, and the sun shining on them 1 " 

He said, " That is the Land of Free- 
dom." 

She said, " How am I to get there? " 
He said, " There is one way, and one 
only. Down the banks of Labour through 
the water of Suffering. There Is no other." 
She said, " Is there no bridge? " 
He answered, " None." 
She said, " Is the water deep ? " 
He said, " Deep." 
She said, "Is the floor worn?" 
He said, " It is. Your foot may slip at 
any time, and you may be lost." 

She said, " Have any crossed already? " 
He said, " Some have triedf " 



THREE DREAMS, IN A DESERT 63 

She said, " Is there a track, to show 
where the best fording is? " 

He said, " It has to be made." 

She shaded her eyes with her hand ; and 
she said, " I will go." 

And he said, " You must take off the 
clothes you wore in the desert: they are 
dragged down by them who go into the 
water so clothed." 

And she threw from her gladly the man- 
tle of Ancient-received-opinions she wore, 
for it was worn full of holes. And she 
took the girdle from her waist that she 
had treasured so long, and the moths flew 
out of it in a cloud. And he said, " Take 
the shoes of dependeijce off your feet." 

And she stood there naked, but for one 
white garment that clung close to her. 

And he said, " That you may keep. So 
they wear clothes in the Land of Freedom. 
In the water It buoys; it always swims." 

And I saw on its breast was written 



64 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

Truth ; and it was white ; the sun had not 
often shone on it; the other clothes had 
covered it up. And he said, " Take this 
stick; hold it fast. In that day when it 
slips from your hand you are lost. Put 
it down before you ; feel your way : where 
it cannot find a bottom do not set your 
foot." 

And she said, "I am ready; let me 
go." 

And he said, " No — but stay; what is 
that — in your breast? " 

She was silent. 

He said, " Open it, and let me see." 

And she opened it. And against her 
breast was a tiny thing, who drank from 
it, and the yellow curls above his forehead 
pressed against it; and his knees were 
drawn up to her, and he held her breast 
fast with his hands. 

And Reason said, " Who is he, and 
what is he doing here ? " 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 65 

And she said, " See his little wings — " 

And Reason said, " Put him down." 

And she said, " He is asleep, and he is 

drinking! I will carry him to the Land 

of Freedom. He has been a child so long, 

so long, I have carried him. In the Land 

of Freedom he will be a man. We will 

walk together there, and his great white 

wings will overshadow me. He has lisped 

one word only to me in the desert — 

' Passion 1 ' I have dreamed he might 

learn to say ' Friendship ' in that land." 

And Reason said, " Put him down 1 " 

And she said, " I will carry him so — 

with one arm, and with the other I will 

fight the water," 

He said, " Lay him down on the ground. 
When you are in the water you will forget 
to fight, you will think only of him. Lay 
him down." He said, " He will not die. 
When he finds you have left him alone he 
will open his wings and fly. He will be 



66 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

in the Land of Freedom before you. 
Those who reach the Land of Freedom, 
the first hand they see stretching down the 
bank to help them shall be Love's. He 
will be a man then, not a child. In your 
breast he cannot thrive; put him down 
that he may grow." 

And she took her bosom from his mouth, 
and he bit her, so that the blood ran down 
on to the ground. And she laid him down 
on the earth ; and she covered her wound. 
And she bent and stroked his wings. And 
I saw the hair on her forehead turned 
white as snow, and she had changed from 
youth to age. 

And she stood far off on the bank of 
the river. And she said, " For what do 
I go to this far land which no one has 
ever reached? Oh, I am alone/ I am 
utterly alone!" 

And Reason, that old man, said to her, 
" Silence ! what do you hear? " 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 67 

And she listened intently, and she said, 
" I hear a sound of feet, a thousand times 
ten thousand and thousands of thousands, 
and they beat this wayl " 

He said, " They are the feet of those 
that shall follow you. Lead onl make a 
track to the water's edgel Where you 
stand now, the ground will be beaten flat 
by ten thousand times ten thousand feet." 
And he said, " Have you seen the locusts 
how they cross a stream ? First one comes 
down to the water-edge, and it is swept 
away, and then another comes and then 
another, and then another, and at last with 
their bodies piled up a bridge is built and 
the rest pass over." 

She said, " And, of those that come first, 
some are swept away, and are heard of 
no more; their bodies do not even build 
the bridge?" 

" And are swept away, and are heard of 
no more — and what of that? " he said. 



68 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

"And what of that " she said. 

" They make a track to the water's 
edge." 

" They make a track to the water's 

edge ." And she said, " Over that 

bridge which shall be built with our bodies, 
who will pass? " 

He said, " The entire human race." 

And the woman grasped her staff. 

And I saw her turn down that dark path 
to the river. 

And I awoke ; and all about me was the 
yellow afternoon light : the sinking sun lit 
up the fingers of the milk bushes; and 
my horse stood by me quietly feeding. 
And I turned on my side, and' I watched 
the ants run by thousands-m the red sand. 
I thought I would go on my way now — 
the afternoon was cooler. Then a drow- 
siness crept over me again, and I laid back 
my head and fell asleep. 



THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 69 

And I dreamed a dream. 

I dreamed I saw a land. And on the 
hills walked brave women and brave men, 
hand in hand. And they looked into 
each other's eyes, and they were not 
afraid. 

And I saw the women also hold each 
other's hands. 

And I said to him beside me, " What 
place is this? " 

And he said, " This is heaven." 

And I said, " Where is it? " 

And he answered, " On earth." 

And I said, "When shall these things 
be?" 

And he answered, " In the Future." 

And I awoke, and all about me was the 
sunset light; and on the low hills the sun 
lay, and a delicious coolness had crept over 
everything; and the ants were going 
slowly home. And I walked towards my 



70 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 

horse, who stood quietly feeding. Then 
the sun passed down behind the hills; but 
I knew that the next day he would arise 
again. 



A DREAM OF WILD BEES 



A DREAM OF WILD BEES 

A MOTHER sat alone at an open 
window. Through it came the 
voices of the children as they 
played under the acacia-trees, and the 
breath of the hot afternoon air. In and 
out of the room flew the bees, the wild bees, 
with their legs yellow with pollen, going to 
and from the acacia-trees, droning all the 
while. She sat on a low chair before the 
table and darned. She took her work from 
the great basket that stood before her on 
the table: some lay on her knee and half 
covered the book that rested there. She 
watched the needle go in and out; and the 
dreary hum of the bees and the noise of 
the children's voices became a confused 
murmur in her ears, as she worked slowly 



74 A DREAM OF WILD BEES 

and more slowly. Then the bees, the long- 
legged wasp-like fellows who make no 
honey, flew closer and closer to her head, 
droning. Then she grew more and more 
drowsy, and she laid her hand, with the 
stocking over it, on the edge of the table, 
and leaned her head upon it. And the 
voices of the children outside grew more 
and more dreamy, came now far, now near ; 
then she did not hear them, but she felt 
under her heart where the ninth child lay. 
Bent forward and sleeping there, with the 
bees flying about her head, she had a weird 
brain-picture ; she thought the bees length- 
ened and lengthened themselves out and 
became human creatures and moved round 
and round her. Then one came to her 
softly, saying, " Let me lay my hand upon 
thy side where the child sleeps. If I shall 
touch him he shall be as I." 

She asked, " Who are you? " 

And he said, " I am Health. Whom I 



A DREAM OF WILD BEES 75 

touch will have always the red blood dan- 
cing in his veins ; he will not know weari- 
ness nor pain ; life will be a long laugh to 
him." 

" No," said another, " let me touch; for 
I am Wealth. If I touch him material 
care shall not feed on him. He shall live 
on the blood and sinews of his fellow-men, 
if he will; and what his eye lusts for, his 
hand will have. He shall not know ' I 
want.' " And the child lay still like lead. 

And another said, " Let me touch him : 
I am Fame. The man I touch, I lead to 
a high hill where all men may see him. 
When he dies he is not forgotten, his name 
rings down the centuries, each echoes it on 
to his fellows. Think — not to be for- 
gotten through the ages 1 " 

And the mother lay breathing steadily, 
but in the brain-picture they pressed closer 
to her. 

" Let me touch the child," said one. 



76 A DREAM OP WILD BEES 

" for I am Love. If I touch him he shall 
not walk through life alone. In the great- 
est dark, when he puts out his hand he 
shall find another hand by it. When the 
world is against him, another shall say, 
' You and I.' " And the child trembled. 

But another pressed close and said, 
"Let me touch; for I am Talent. I can 
do all things — that have been done be- 
fore. I touch the soldier, the statesman, 
the thinker, and the politician who succeed ; 
and the writer who is never before his time, 
and never behind it. If I touch the child 
he shall not weep for failure." 

About the mother's head the bees were 
flying, touching her with their long taper- 
ing limbs; and, in her brain-picture, out 
of the shadow of the room came one with 
sallow face, deep-lined, the cheeks drawn 
into hollows, and a mouth smiling quiver- 
ingly. He stretched out his hand. And 
the mother drew back, and cried, " Who 



A DREAM OF WILD BEES 77 

are you?" He answered nothing; and 
she looked up between his eyelids. And 
she said, " What can you give the child — 
health?" And he said, "The man I 
touch, there wakes up in his blood a burn- 
ing fever, that shall lick his blood as fire. 
The fever that I will give him shall be 
cured when his life is cured." 

"You give wealth?" 

He shook his head. " The man whom 
I touch, when he bends to pick up gold, 
he sees suddenly a light over his head in 
the sky; while he looks up to see it, the 
gold slips from between his fingers, or 
sometimes another passing takes it from 
them." 

"Fame?" 

He answered, " Likely not. For the 
man I touch there is a path traced out in 
the sand by a finger which no man sees. 
That he must follow. Sometimes it leads 
almost to the top, and then turns down 



78 A DREAM OF WILD BEES 

suddenly into the valley. He must follow 
it, though none else sees the tracing," 

"Love?" 

He said, " He shall hunger for it — but 
he shall not find it. When he stretches 
out his arms to it, and would lay his heart 
against a thing he loves, then, far off along 
the horizon he shall see a light play. He 
must go towards it. The thing he loves 
will not journey with him ; he must travel 
alone. When he presses somewhat to his 
burning heart, crying, ' Mine, mine, my 
own I ' he shall hear a voice — ' Renounce ! 
renounce I this is not thine ! ' " 

"He shall succeed?" 

He said, " He shall fail. When he runs 
with others they shall reach the goal before 
him. For strange voices shall call to him 
and strange lights shall beckon him, and 
he must wait and listen. And this shall be 
the strangest: far off across the burning 
sands where, to other men, there is only 



A DREAM OF WILD BEES 79 

the desert's waste, he shall see a blue sea ! 
On that sea the sun shines always, and the 
water is blue as burning amethyst, and the 
foam is white on the shore. A great land 
rises from it, and he shall see upon the 
mountain-tops burning gold." 

The mother said, " He shall reach it? " 

And he smiled curiously. 

She said, "It is real?" 

And he said, " What is real? " 

And she looked up between his half- 
closed eyelids, and said, " Touch." 

And he leaned forward and laid his hand 
upon the sleeper, and whispered to it, 
smiling ; and this only she heard — " This 
shall he thy reward — that the ideal shall 
be real to thee." 

And the child trembled ; but the mother 
slept on heavily and her brain-picture van- 
ished. But deep within her the antenatal 
thing that lay here had a dream. In those 
eyes that had never seen the day, in that 



80 A DREAM OF WILD BEES 

half-shaped brain was a sensation of light ! 
Light — that it never had seen. Light — 
that perhaps it never should see. Light — 
that existed somewhere ! 

And already it had Its reward : the Ideal 
was real to it. 

London. 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

" I cannot forgive — I love." 

THERE are four bare walls; there 
is a Christ upon the walls, in red, 
carrying his cross; there is a 
Blessed Bambino with the face rubbed out ; 
there is Madonna In blue and red; there 
are Roman soldiers and a Christ with tied 
hands. All the roof Is gone; overhead Is 
the blue, blue Italian sky; the rain has 
beaten holes in the walls, and the plaster 
Is peeling from It. The chapel stands here 
alone upon the promontory, and by day 
and by night the sea breaks at Its feet. 
Some say that it was set here by the monks 
from the Island down below, that they 
might bring their sick here In times of 
deadly plague. Some say that it was set 



84 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

here that the passing monks and friars, as 
they hurried by upon the roadway, might 
stop and say their prayers here. Now no 
one stops to pray here, and the sick come 
no more to be healed. 

Behind it runs the old Roman road. If 
you climb it and come and sit there alone 
on a hot sunny day you may almost hear 
at last the clink of the Roman soldiers upon 
the pavement, and the sound of that older 
time, as you sit there in the sun, when Han- 
nibal and his men broke through the brush- 
wood, and no road was. 

Now it is very quiet. Sometimes a peas- 
ant girl comes riding by between her pan- 
niers, and you hear the mule's feet beat 
upon the bricks of the pavement; some- 
times an old woman goes past with a bun- 
dle of weeds upon her head, or a brigand- 
looking man hurries by with a bundle of 
sticks in his hand; but for the rest the 
Chapel lies here alone upon the promon- 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 85 

tory, between the two bays and hears the 
sea break at its feet. 

I came here one winter's day when the 
midday sun shone hot on the bricks of the 
Roman road. I was weary, and the way 
seemed steep. I walked into the Chapel 
to the broken window, and looked out 
across the bay. Far off, across the blue, 
blue water, were towns and villages, hang- 
ing white and red dots, upon the mountain- 
sides, and the blue mountains rose up Into 
the sky, and now stood out from it and 
now melted back again. 

The mountains seemed calling to me, 
but I knew there would never be a bridge 
built from them to me; never, never, 
never! I shaded my eyes with my hand 
and turned away. I could not bear to look 
at them. 

I walked through the ruined Chapel, 
and looked at the Christ in red carrying 



86 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

his cross, and the Blessed rubbed-out Bam- 
bino, and the Roman soldiers, and the 
folded hands, and the reed; and I went 
and sat down in the open porch upon a 
stone. At my feet was the small bay, with 
its white row of houses buried among the 
olive trees ; the water broke in a long, thin, 
white line of foam along the shore ; and I 
leaned my elbows on my knees. I was 
tired, very tired; tired with a tiredness 
that seemed older than the heat of the day 
and the shining of the sun on the bricks of 
the Roman road ; and I lay my head upon 
my knees; I heard the breaking of the 
water on the rocks three hundred feet 
below, and the rustling of the wind among 
the olive trees and the ruined arches, and 
then I fell asleep there. I had a dream. 

A man cried up to God, and God sent 
down an angel to help him; and the angel 
came back and said, " I cannot help that 
man." 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 87 



God said, " How Is it with him? " 

And the angel said, " He cries out con- 
tinually that one has injured him; and he 
would forgive him and he cannot." 

God said, "What have you done for 
him?" 

The angel said, " All . I took him 

by the hand, and I said, ' See, when other 
men speak ill of that man do you speak 
well of him ; secretly, in ways he shall not 
know, serve him; if you have anything 
you value share it with him, so, serving 
him, you will at last come to feel posses- 
sion in him, and you will forgive.' And 
he said, ' I will do it.' Afterwards, as I 
passed by in the dark of night, I heard one 
crying out, * I hgve done all. It helps 
nothing I My speaking well of him helps 
me nothing I If I share my heart's blood 
with him, is the burning within me less? 
I cannot forgive; I cannot forgive 1 Oh, 
God, I cannot forgive ! ' 



88 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

" I said to him, ' See here, look back on 
all your past. See from your childhood all 
smallness, all Indirectness that has been 
yours ; look well at it, and in its light do 
you not see every man your brother? 
Are you so sinless you have right to 
hate?' 

*' He looked, and said, ' Yes, you are 
right; I too have failed, and I forgive my 
fellow. Go, I am satisfied; I have for- 
given ; ' and he laid him down peacefully 
and folded his hands on his breast and I 
thought it was well with him. But scarcely 
had my wings rustled and I turned to come 
up here, when I heard one crying out on 
earth again, ' I cannot forgive ! I cannot 
forgive ! Oh, God, God, I cannot forgive 1 
It is better to die than to hate I I cannot 
forgive 1 I cannot forgive ! ' And I went 
and stood outside his door in the dark, 
and I heard him cry, ' I have not sinned 
so, not sol If I have torn my fellows' 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 89 

flesh ever so little, I have kneeled down 
and kissed the wound with my mouth till 
it was healed. I have not willed that any 
soul should be lost through hate of me. 
I^f they have but fancied that I wronged 
them I have lain down on the ground be- 
fore them that they might tread on me, and 
so, seeing my humiliation, forgive and not 
be lost through hating me; they have not 
cared that my soul should be lost; they 
have not willed to save me ; they have not 
tried that I should forgive them 1 ' 

" I said to him, ' See here, be thou con- 
tent; do not forgive: forget this soul and 
its injury; go on your way. In the next 
world perhaps ' 

" He cried, ' Go from me, you under- 
stand nothing! What is the next world 
to me I I am lost now, to-day. I cannot 
see the sunlight shine, the dust is in my 
throat, the sand is in my eyes! Go from 
me, you know nothing I Oh, once again 



90 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

before I die to see that the world is beau- 
tiful 1 Oh, God, God, I cannot live and 
not love. I cannot live and hate. Oh, 
God, God, God I ' So I left him crying 
out and came back here." 

God said, "This man's soul must be 
saved." 

And the angel said " How? " 

God said, " Go down you, and save 
it." 

The angel said, " What more shall I 
do?" 

Then God bent down and whispered in 
the angel's ear, and the angel spread out 
its wings and went down to earth. 

And partly I woke, sitting there upon 
the broken stone with my head on my knee ; 
but I was too weary to rise. I heard the 
wind roam through the olive trees and 
among the ruined arches, and then I slept 
again. 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 91 

The angel went down and found the 
man with the bitter heart and took him 
by the hand, and led him to a certain 
spot. 

Now the man wist not where it was the 
angel would take him nor what he would 
show him there. And when they came the 
angel shaded the man's eyes with his wing, 
and when he moved it the man saw some- 
what on the earth before them. For God 
had given -it to that angel to unclothe a 
human soul; to take from it all those out- 
ward attributes of form, and colour, and 
age, and sex, whereby one man is known 
from among his fellows and is marked off 
from the rest, and the soul lay before them, 
bare, as a man turning his eye inwards 
beholds himself. 

They saw its past, its childhood, the 
tiny life with the dew upon it; they saw 
Its youth when the dew was melting, and 
the creature raised its Lilliputian mouth 



92 IN A RUINED CEAPEL 

to drink from a cup too large for it, and 
they saw how the water spilt; they saw 
its hopes that were never realized; they 
saw its hours of Intellectual blindness, men 
call sin ; they saw its hours of all-radiating 
insight, which men call righteousness ; they 
saw its hour of strength, when it leaped to 
its feet crying, " I am omnipotent ; " its 
hour of weakness, when it fell to the 
earth and grasped dust only; they saw 
what it might have been, but never would 
be. 

The man bent forward. 

And the angel said, " What Is it?" 

He answered, "It Is // It Is myself!" 
And he went forward as if he would have 
lain his heart against It; but the angel 
held him back and covered his eyes. 

Now God had given power to the angel 
further to unclothe that soul, to take from 
It all those outward attributes of time and 
place and circumstance whereby the Indi- 



IN A RUINED CliAPEL 93 

vidual life is marked off from the life of 
the whole. 

Again the angel uncovered the man's 
eyes, and he looked. He saw before him 
that which in its tiny drop reflects the 
whole universe; he saw that which marks 
within itself the step of the furthest star, 
and tells how the crystal grows under 
ground where no eye has seen it; that 
which is where the germ in the egg stirs; 
which moves the outstretched fingers of 
the little new-born babe, and keeps the 
leaves of the trees pointing upward ; which 
moves where the jelly-fish sail alone on t|ie 
sunny seas, and is where the lichens form 
on the mountains' rocks. 

And the man looked. 

And the angel touched him. 

But the man bowed his head and shud- 
dered. He whispered — "/^ is God!" 

And the angel re-covered the man's eyes. 
And when he uncovered them there was 



94 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

one walking from them a little way off ; — 
for the angel had reclothed the soul in its 
outward form and vesture — and the man 
knew who it was. 

And the angel said, " Do you know 
him?" 

And the man said, " I know him," and 
he looked after the figure. 

And the angel said, " Have you for- 
given him ? " 

But the man said, "How beautiful my 
brother is! " 

And the angel looked into the man's 
eyes, and he shaded his own face with his 
wing from the light. He laughed softly 
and went up to God. 

But the men were together on earth. 

I awoke. 

The blue, blue sky was over my head, 
and the waves were breaking below on the 
shore. I walked through the little chapel. 



IN A RUINED CHAPEL 95 

and I saw the Madonna in blue and red, 
and the Christ carrying his cross, and the 
Roman soldiers with the rod, and the 
Blessed Bambino with its broken face ; and 
then I walked down the sloping rock to the 
brick pathway. The olive trees stood up 
on either side of the road, their black ber- 
ries and pale-green leaves stood out against 
the sky ; and the little ice-plants hung from 
the crevices in the stone wall. It seemed 
to me as if it must have rained while I was 
asleep. I thought I had never seen the 
heavens and the earth look so beautiful 
before. I walked down the road. The 
old, old, old tiredness was gone. 

Presently there came a peasant boy 
down the path leading his ass ; she had 
two large panniers fastened to her sides; 
and they went down the road before 
me. 

I had never seen him before; but I 



96 IN A RUINED CHAPEL 

'. '. / 

should have liked to walk by him and to 

have held his hand only, he would 

not have known why. ^ 

Alassio, Italy. 



LIFE'S GIFTS 



LIFE'S GIFTS 

I SAW a woman sleeping. In her sleep 
she dreamt Life stood before her, and 
held in each hand a gift — in the one 
Love, in the other Freedom. And she said 
to the woman, " Choose ! " 

And the woman waited long: and she 
said, " Freedom I " 

And Life said, " Thou hast well chosen. 
If thou hadst said, * Love,' I would have 
given thee that thou didst ask for; and I 
would have gone from thee, and returned 
to thee no more. Now, the day will come 
when I shall return. In that day I shall 
bear both gifts in one hand." 

I heard the woman laugh in her sleep. 

London. 



THE ARTIST'S SECRET 



THE ARTIST'S SECRET 

THERE was an artist once, and he 
painted a picture. Other artists 
had colours richer and rarer, and 
painted more notable pictures. He painted 
his with one colour, there was a wonderful 
red glow on it; and the people went up 
and down, saying, " We like the picture, 
we like the glow." 

The other artists came and said, 
"Where does he get his colour from?" 
They asked him; and he smiled and said, 
" I cannot tell you " ; and worked on with 
his head bent low. 

And one went to the far East and bought 
costly pigments, and made a rare colour 
and painted, but after a time the picture 
faded. Another read in the old books, 



104 THE ARTIST'S SECRET 

and made a colour rich and rare, but 
when he had put it on the picture it was 
dead. 

But the artist painted on. Always the 
work got redder and redder, and the artist 
grew whiter and whiter. At last one day 
they found him dead before his picture, 
and they took him up to bury him. The 
other men looked about in all the pots and 
crucibles, but they foxmd nothing they had 
not. 

And when they undressed him to put 
his grave-dothes on him, they found above 
his left breast the mark of a woimd — it 
was an old, old wound, that must Have 
been there all his life, for the edges were 
old and hardened; but Death, who seals 
aU things, had drawn the edges together, 
and closed it up. 

And they buried him. And still the 
people went about saying, " Where did he 
find his colour from ? " 



THE ARTISTS SECRET 105 

And it came to pass that after a while 
the artist was forgotten — but the work 
lived. 

St. Leonards-on-Sea. 



"/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 



"/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 
I 

I THOUGHT I stood in Heaven be- 
fore God's throne, and God asked me 
what I had come for. I said I had 
conie to arraign my brother, Man. 
God said, " What has he done? " 
I said, " He has taken my sister, 
Woman, and has stricken her, and 
wounded her, and thrust her out into the 
streets; she lies there prostrate. His 
hands are red with blood. / am here to 
arraign him; that the kingdom be taken 
from him, because he is not worthy, and 
given unto me. My hands are pure." 
I showed them. 



no "/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 

God said, " Thy hands are pure. — Lift 
up thy robe." 

I raised it; my feet were red, blood-red, 
as if I had trodden in wine. 

God said, "How is this?" 

I said, " Dear Lord, the streets on earth 
are full of mire. If I should walk straight 
on in them my outer robe might be be- 
spotted, you see how white it isl There- 
fore I pick my way." 

God said, " On what? " 

I was silent, and I let my robe fall. I 
wrapped my mantle about my head. I 
went out softly. I was afraid that the 
angels would see me. 



II 



Once more I stood at the gate of 
Heaven, I and another. We held fast by 
one another; we were very tired. We 
looked up at the great gates; the angels 



" I THOUGHT I STOOD " 111 

opened them, and we went in. The mud 
was on our garments. We walked across 
the marble floor, and up to the great 
throne. Then the angels divided us. Her, 
they set upon the top step, but me, upon 
the bottom ; for, they said, " Last time 
this woman came here she left red foot- 
marks on the floor; we had to wash 
them out with our tears. Let her not go 
up. 

Then she, with whom I came, looked 
back, and stretched out her hand to me; 
and I went and stood beside her. And the 
angels, they, the shining ones who never 
sinned and never suffered, walked by us to 
and fro and up and down; I think we 
should have felt a little lonely there if it 
had not been for one another, the angels 
were so bright. 

God asked me what I had come for; 
and I drew my sister forward a little that 
he might see her. 



112 "/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 

God said, " How is it you are here to- 
gether to-day?" 

I said, " She was upon the ground in 
the street, and they passed over her; I 
lay down by her, and she put her arms 
around my neck, and so I lifted her, and 
we two rose together." 

God said, " Whom are you now come 
to accuse before me?" 

I said, " We are come to accuse no 
man." 

And God bent, and said, " My children 
— what is it that ye seek? " 

And she beside me drew my hand that 
I should speak for both. 

I said, *' We have come to ask that thou 
shouldst speak to Man, our brother, and 
give us a message for him that he might 
understand, and that he might " 

God said, " Go, take the message down 
to him I" 

I said, " But what is the message?" 



"/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 113 

God said, " Upon your hearts It is writ- 
ten; take it down to him." 

And we turned to go; the angels went 
with us to the door. They looked at us. 

And one said — " Ai I but their dresses 
are beautiful ! " 

And the other said, " I thought it was 
mire when they came in, but see, it is all 
golden!" 

But another said, " Hush, it is the light 
from their faces ! " 

And we went down to him. 

Alassio, Italy. 



THE SUNLIGHT LAY ACROSS MY 
BED 



THE SUNLIGHT LAY ACROSS MY 
BED,— 

IN the dark one night I lay upon my 
bed. I heard the policeman's feet 
beat on the pavement; I heard the 
wheels of carriages roll home from houses 
of entertainment; I heard a woman's 

laugh below my window and then I 

fell asleep. And in the dark I dreamt a 
dream. I dreamt God took my soul to 
Hell. 

Hell was a fair place ; the water of the 
lake was blue. 

I said to God, " I like this place." 

God said, " Ay, dost thou 1 " 

Birds sang, turf came to the water-edge, 
and trees grew from it. Away off among 



118 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

the trees I saw beautiful women walking. 
Their clothes were of many delicate col- 
ours and clung to them, and they were tall 
and graceful and had yellow hair. Their 
robes trailed over the grass. They glided 
in and out among the trees, and over their 
heads hung yellow fruit like large pears of 
melted gold. 

I said, " It is very fair; I would go up 
and taste the " 

God said, "Wait." 

And after a while I noticed a very fair 
woman pass : she looked this way and that, 
and drew down a branch, and it seemed 
she kissed the fruit upon it softly, and went 
on her way, and her dress made no rustle 
as she passed over the grass. And when 
I saw her no more, from among the stems 
came another woman fair as she had been, 
in a delicate tinted robe; she looked this 
way and that. When she saw no one there 
she drew down the fruit, and when she 



ACROSS MY BED 119 

had looked over it to find a place, she put 
her mouth to it softly, and went away. 
And I saw other ajid other women come, 
making no noise, and they glided away also 
over the grass. 

And I said to God, "What are they 
doing?" 

God said, " They are poisoning." 

And I said, "How?" 

God said, " They touch it with their lips, 
when they have made a tiny wound in it 
with their fore-teeth they set in it that 
which is under their tongues: they close 
it with their lip — that no man may see 
the place, and pass on." 

I said to God, "Why do they do it?" 

God said, " That another may not eat." 

I said to God, " But if they poison all 
then none dare eat; what do they gain?" 

God said, " Nothing." 

I said, " Are they not afraid they them- 
selves may bite where another has bitten? " 



120 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY 

God said, " They are afraid. In Hell 
all men fear." 

He called me further. And the water 
of the lake seemed less blue. 

Then, to the right among the trees were 
men working. And I said to God, " I 
should like to go and work with them. 
Hell must be a very fruitful place, the 
grass is so green." 

God said, " Nothing grows in the gar- 
-den they are making." 

We stood looking; and I saw them 
working among the bushes, digging holes, 
but in them they set nothing; and when 
they had covered them with sticks andi 
earth each went a way off and sat behind 
the bushes watching ; and I noticed that 
as each walked he set his foot down care- 
fully looking where he trod. I said to 
God, "What are they doing?" 

God said, " Making pitfalls into which 
their fellows may sink." 



ACROSS MY BED 121 

I said to God, " Why do they do It? " 
God said, " Because each thinks that 
when his brother falls he will rise." 
I said to God, " How will he rise? " 
God said, " He will not rise." 
And I saw their eyes gleam from behind 
the bushes. 
I said to God, "Are these men sane?" 
God said, " They are not sane ; there Is 
no sane man in Hell." 

And he told me to come further. 
And I looked where I trod. 
And we came where Hell opened Into 
a plain, and a great house stood there. 
Marble pillars upheld the roof, and white 
marble steps led up to It. The wind of 
heaven blew through It. Only at the back 
hung a thick curtain. Fair men and women 
there feasted at long tables. They danced, 
and I saw the robes of women flutter in 
the air and heard the laugh of strong men. 
What they feasted with was wine; they 



122 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

drew it from large jars which stood some- 
what in the background, and I saw the 
wine sparkle as they drew it. 

And I said to God, " I should like to go 
up and drink." And God said, "Wait." 
And I saw men coming In to the Banquet 
House; they came in from the back and 
lifted the corner of the curtain at the sides 
and crept in quickly; and they let the cur- 
tain fall behind them ; they bore great jars 
they could hardly carry. And the men 
and women crowded round them, and the 
newcomers opened their jars and gave 
them of the wine to drink; and I saw that 
the women drank even more greedily than 
the men. And when others had well 
drunken they set the jars among the old 
ones beside the wall, and took their places 
at the table. And I saw that some of the 
jars were very old and mildewed and dusty, 
but others had still drops of new must on 
them and shone from the furnace. 



ACROSS MY BED 123 

And I said to God, "What is that?" 
For amid the sound of the singing, and 
over i:he dancing of feet, and over the 
laughing across the wine-cups I heard a 
cry. 

And God said, " Stand a way off." 

And he took me where I saw both sides 
of the curtain. Behind the house was the 
wine-press where the wine was made. I 
saw the grapes crushed, and I heard them 
cry. I said, " Do not they on the other 
side hear it?" 

God said, " The curtain is thick ; they 
are feasting." 

And I said, " But the men who came 
in last. They saw? " 

God said, "They let the curtain fall 
behind them — and they forget 1 " 

I said, " How came they by their jars 
of wine? " 

God said, " In the treading of the press 
these are they who came to the top; they 



124 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

have climbed out over the edge, and filled 
their jars from below, and have gone into 
the house." 

And I said, " And if they had fallen as 
they climbed ?" 

God said, " They had been wine." 

I stood a way off watching in the sun- 
shine, and I shivered. 

God lay in the sunshine watching too. 

Then there rose one among the feasters, 
who said, " My brethren, let us pray ! " 

And all the men and women rose: and 
strong men bowed their heads, and moth- 
ers folded their little children's hands to- 
gether, and turned their faces upwards, to 
the roof. And he who first had risen stood 
at the table head, and stretched out both 
his hands, and his beard was long and 
white, and his sleeves and his beard had 
been dipped in wine; and because the 
sleeves were wide and full they held much 
wine, and it dropped down upon the floor. 



ACROSS MY BED 125 

And he cried, " My brothers and my 
sisters, let us pray." 

And all the men and women answered, 
" Let us pray." 

He cried, " For this fair banquet-house 
we thank thee, Lord." 

And all the men and women said, " We 
thank thee. Lord." 

" Thine is this house, dear Lord." 

" Thine is this house." 

" For us hast thou made it." 

" For us." 

" Oh, fill our jars with wine, dear Lord." 

" Our jars with wine." 

" Give peace and plenty in our time, 
dear Lord." 

" Peace and plenty in our time " 

I said to God, " Whom is it they are talk- 
ing to? " God said, " Do I know whom 
they speak of?" And I saw they were 
looking up at the roof; but out in the sun- 
shine, God lay. 



126 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 



dear Lord 1 " 



" Dear Lord." 

" Our children's children, Lord, shall 
rise and call thee blessed." 

" Our children's children. Lord," 

I said to God, "The grapes are crying 1 " 

God said, " Still 1 / hear them" 

" shall call thee blessed." 

" Shall call thee blessed." 

" Pour forth more wine upon us. Lord." 

" More wine." 

" More wine." 

" More wine 1 " 

"Wine! I" 

" Wine ! ! " 

" Wine III" 

"Dear Lord I" 

Then men and women sat down and the 
feast went on. And mothers poured out 
wine and fed their little children with it, 
and men held up the cup to women's lips 
and cried, " Beloved ! drink," and women 



ACROSS MY BED 127 

filled their lovers' flagons and held them 
up ; and yet the feast went on. 

And after a while I looked, and I saw 
the curtain that hung behind the house 
moving. 

I said to God, " Is it a wind? " 

God said, " A wind." 

And it seemed to me, that against the 
curtain I saw pressed the forms of men 
and women. And after a while the feast- 
ers saw it move, and they whispered, one 
to another. Then some rose and gathered 
the most worn-out cups, and into them 
they put what was left at the bottom of 
other vessels. Mothers whispered to their 
children, " Do not drink all, save a little 
drop when you have drunk." And when 
they had collected all the dregs they slipped 
the cups out under the bottom of the cur- 
tain without lifting It. After a while the 
curtain left off moving. 

I said to God, " How Is It so quiet?" 



128 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY 

He said, " They have gone away to 
drink it." 

I said, " They drink it — their own! " 

God said, " It comes from this side of 
the curtain, and they are very thirsty." 

Then the feast went on, and after a 
while I saw a small, white hand slipped in 
below the curtain's edge along the floor; 
and it motioned towards the wine jars. 

And I said to God, " Why is that hand 
so bloodless? " 

And God said, " It is a wine-pressed 
hand." 

And men saw it and started to their feet ; 
and women cried, and ran to the great wine 
jars, and threw their arms around them, 
and cried, " Ours, our own, our beloved ! " 
and twined their long hair about them. 

I said to God, "Why are they fright- 
ened of that one small hand? " 

God answered, " Because it is so white." 

And men ran in a great company 



ACROSS MY BED 129 

towards the curtain, and struggled there. 
I heard them strike upon the floor. And 
when they moved away the curtain hung 
smooth and still; and there was a small 
stain upon the floor. 

I said to God, " Why do they not wash 
it out?" 

God said, " They cannot." 

And they took small stones and put them 
down along the edge of the curtain to keep 
it down. Then the men and women sat 
down again at the tables. 

And I said to God, " Will those stones 
keep it down?" 

God said, "What think you?" 

I said, " If the wind blew " 

, God said, " If the wind blew? " 

And the feast went on. 

And suddenly I cried to God, " If one 
should rise among them, even of them- 
selves, and start up from the table and 
should cast away his cup, and cry, ' My 



130 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

brothers and my sisters, stayl what Is it 

that we drink ? ' and with his sword 

should cut in two the curtain, and holding 
wide the fragments, cry, ' Brothers, sisters, 
seel it is not wine, not winel not wine! 
My brothers, oh, my sisters — I ' and he 
should overturn the " 

God said, " Be still I , see there." 

I looked: before the banquet-house, 
among the grass, I saw a row of mounds, 
flowers covered them, and gilded marble 
stood at their heads. I asked God what 
they were. 

He answered, " They are the graves of 
those who rose up at the feast and cried." 

And I asked God how they came there. 

He said, " The men of the banquet- 
house rose and cast them down back- 
wards." 

I said, "Who buried them?" 

God said, " The men who cast them 
down." 



ACROSS MY BED 131 

I said, " How came It that they threw 
them down, and then set marble over 
them?" 

God said, " Because the bones cried out, 
they covered them." 

And among the grass and weeds I saw 
an unburied body lying; and I asked God 
why it was. 

God said, " Because it was thrown down 
only yesterday. In a little while, when 
the flesh shall have fallen from its bones, 
they will bury it also, and plant flowers 
over it." 

And still the feast went on. 

Men and women sat at the tables quaf- 
fing great bowls. Some rose, and threw 
their arms about each other, and danced 
and sang. They pledged each other In the 
wine, and kissed each other's blood-red 
lips. 

Higher and higher grew the revels. 

Men, when they had drunk till they 



132 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

could no longer, threw what was left in 
their glasses up to the roof, and let it fall 
back in cascades. Women dyed their chil- 
dren's garments in the wine, and fed them 
on it till their tiny mouths were red. Some- 
times, as the dancers whirled, they over- 
turned a vessel, and their garments were 
bespattered. Children sat upon the floor 
with great bowls of wine, and swam rose- 
leaves on it, for boats. They put their 
hands in the wine and blew large red bub- 
bles. 

And higher and higher grew the revels, 
and wilder the dancing, and louder and 
louder the singing. But here and there 
among the revellers were those who did 
not revel. I saw that at the tables here 
and there were men who sat with their 
elbows on the board and hands shading 
their eyes; they looked into the wine-cup 
beneath them, and did not drink. And 
when one touched them lightly on the 



ACROSS MY BED 133 

shoulder, bidding them to rise and dance 
and sing, they started, and then looked 
down, and sat there watching the wine In 
the cup, but they did not move. 

And here and there I saw a woman sit 
apart. The others danced and sang and 
fed their children, but she sat silent with 
her head aside as though she listened. 
Her little children plucked her gown ; she 
did not see them ; she was listening to some 
sound, but she did not stir. 

The revels grew higher. Men drank 
till they could drink no longer, and lay 
their heads upon the table sleeping heavily. 
Women who could dance no more leaned 
back on the benches with their heads 
against their lovers' shoulders. Little chil- 
dren, sick with wine, lay down upon the 
edges of their mothers' robes. Sometimes, 
a man rose suddenly, and as he staggered 
struck the tables and overthrew the 
benches; some leaned upon the balus- 



134 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

trades sick unto death. Here and there 
one rose who staggered to the wine jars 
and lay down beside them. He turned the 
wine tap, but sleep overcame him as he lay 
there, and the wine ran out. 

Slowly the thin, red stream ran across 
the white marbled floor; it reached the 
stone steps; slowly, slowly, slowly it 
trickled down, from step to step, from 
step to step: then it sank into the earth. 
A thin white smoke rose up from it. 

I was silent; I could not breathe; but 
God called me to come further. 

And after I had travelled for a while 
I came where on seven hills lay the ruins 
of a mighty banquet-house larger and 
stronger than the one which I had seen 
standing. 

I said to God, " What did the men who 
built it here?" 

God said, " They feasted." 

I said, "On what?" 



ACROSS MY BED 135 

God said, " On wine." 

And I looked ; and It seemed to me that 
behind the ruins lay still a large circular 
hollow within the earth where a foot of 
the wine-press had stood. 

I said to God, " How came it that this 
large house fell? " 

God said, " Because the earth was 
sodden." 

He called me to come further. 

And at last we came upon a hill where 
blue waters played, and white marble lay 
upon the earth. I said to God, "What 
was here once ? " 

God said, " A pleasure house." 

I looked, and at my feet great pillars 
lay. I cried aloud for joy to God, " The 
marble blossoms I " 

God said, "Ay, 'twas a fairy house. 
There has not been one like to It, nor 
ever shall be. The pillars and the porti- 
coes blossomed; and the wine-cups were 



136 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

as gathered flowers: on this side all the 
curtain was broidered with fair designs, 
the stitching was of gold." 

I said to God, " How came it that it 
fell?" 

God said, " On the side of the wine- 
press it was dark." 

And as we travelled, we came where lay 
a mighty ridge of sand, and a dark river 
ran there ; and there rose two vast mounds. 

I said to God, " They are very mighty." 

God said, " Ay, exceeding great." 

And I listened. 

God asked me what I was listening to. 

And i said, " A sound of weeping, and 
I hear the sound of strokes, but I cannot 
tell whence it comes." 

God said, " It is the echo of the wine- 
press lingering still among the coping- 
stones upon the mounds. A banquet-house 
stood here." 

And he called me to come further. 



ACROSS MY BED 137 

Upon a barren hill-side, where the soil 
was arid, God called me to stand still. 
And I looked around. 

God said, " There was a f easting-house 
here once upon a time." 

I said to God, " I see no mark of any I " 

God said, " There was not left one stone 
upon another that has not been thrown 
down." And I looked round; and on the 
hill-side was a lonely grave. 

I said to God, " What lies there? " 

He said, " A vine truss, bruised in the 
wine-press 1 " 

And at the head of the grave stood a 
cross, and on its foot lay a crown of thorns. 

And as I turned to go, I looked back- 
ward. The wine-press and the banquet- 
house were gone ; but the grave yet stood. 

And when I came to the edge of a long 
ridge there opened out before me a wide 
plain of sand. And when I looked down- 
ward I saw great stones lie shattered ; and 



138 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

the desert sand had half covered them 
over. 

I said to God, " There is writing on 
them, but I cannot read it." 

And God blew aside the desert sand, 
and I read the writing : " Weighed in the 

balance, and found " but the last 

word was wanting. 

And I said to God, " It was a banquet- 
house? " 

God said, " Ay, a banquet-house." 
I said, " There was a wine-press here? " 
God said, " There was a wine-press." 
I asked no further question. I was very 
weary; I shaded my eyes with my hand, 
and looked through the pink evening light. 
Far off, across the sand, I saw two fig- 
ures standing. With wings upfolded high 
above their heads, and stern faces set, 
neither man nor beast, they looked out 
across the desert sand, watching, watching, 
watching! I did not ask God what they 



ACROSS MY BED 139 

were, for I knew what the answer would 
be. 

And, further and yet further, in the 
evening light, I looked with my shaded 
eyes. 

Far off, where the sands were thick and 
heavy, I saw a solitary pillar standing: 
the crown had fallen, and the sand had 
buried it. On the broken pillar sat a grey 
owl-of-the-desert, with folded wings; and 
in the evening light I saw the desert fox 
creep past it, trailing his brush across the 
sand. 

Further, yet further, as I looked across 
the desert, I saw the sand gathered i;ito 
heaps as though it covered something. 

I cried to God, " Oh, I am so weary." 

God said, " You have seen only one half \ 
of Hell." 

I said, " I cannot see more, I am afraid 
of Hell. In my own narrow little path I 
dare not walk because I think that one has 



140 - THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

dug a pitfall for me ; and if I put my hand 
to take a fruit I draw it back again be- 
cause I think it has been kissed already. 
If I look out across the plains, the mounds 
are burial heaps; and when I pass among 
the stones I hear them crying aloud. When 
I see men dancing I hear the time beaten 
in with sobs ; and their wine is living ! Oh, 
I cannot bear Hell ! " 

God said, "Where will you go? " 

I said, " To the earth from which I 
came ; it was better there." 

And God laughed at me; and I won- 
dered why he laughed. 

God said, " Come, and I will show you 
Heaven." 



And partly I awoke. It was still and 
dark; the sound of the carriages had died 
in the street ; the woman who laughed was 
gone ; and the policeman's tread was heard 



ACROSS MY BED 141 

no more. In the dark it seemed as if a 
great hand lay upon my heart, and crushed 
it. I tried to breathe and tossed from side 
to side; and then again I fell asleep, and 
dreamed. 

God took me to the edge of that world. 
It ended. I looked down. The gulf, it 
seemed to me, was fathomless; and then 
I saw two bridges crossing it that both 
sloped upwards. 

I said to God, " Is there no other way 
by which men cross it? " 

God said, " One ; it rises far from here 
and slopes straight upwards." 

I asked God what the bridges' names 
were. 

God said, " What matter for the names? 
Call them the Good, the True, the Beau- 
tiful, if you will — you will yet not under- 
stand them." 

I asked God how it was I could not see 
the third. 



142 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

God said, " It is seen only by those who 
climb it." 

I said, " De they all lead to one 
heaven? " 

God said, "All Heaven is one: never- 
theless some parts are higher than others; 
those who reach the higher may always go 
down to rest in the lower; but those in the 
lower may not have strength to climb to 
the higher; nevertheless the light is all 
one." 

And I saw over the bridge nearest me, 
which was wider than the other, countless 
footmarks go. I asked God why so many 
went over it. 

God said, " It slopes less deeply, and 
leads to the first heaven." 

And I saw that some of the footmarks 
were of feet returning. I asked God how 
it was. 

He said, " No man who has once en- 
tered Heaven ever leaves it; but some. 



ACROSS MY BED 143 

when they have gone half way, turn back, 
because they are afraid there Is no land 
beyond." 

I said, " Has none ever returned? " 

God said, " No ; once in Heaven always 
in Heaven." 

And God took me over. And when we 
came to one of the great doors -^ for 
Heaven has more doors than one, and they 
are all open — the posts rose up so high 
on either side I could not see the top, nor 
indeed if there were any. 

And it seemed to me so wide that all 
Hell could go in through it. 

I said to God, "Which is the larger, 
Heaven or Hell?" 

God said, " Hell is as wide, but Heaven 
is deeper. All Hell could be engulfed in 
Heaven, but all Heaven could not be en- 
gulfed in Hell." 

And we entered. It was a still great 
land. The mountains rose on every hand. 



144 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

and there was a pale clear light; and I 
saw it came from the rocks and stones. 
I asked God how it was. 

But God did not answer me. 

I looked and wondered, for I had 
thought Heaven would be otherwise. And 
after a while it began to grow brighter, 
as if the day were breaking, and I asked 
God if the sun were not going to rise. 

God said, " No ; we are coming to where 
the people are." 

And as we went on it grew brighter and 
brighter till it was burning day; and on 
the rock were flowers blooming, and trees 
blossomed at the roadside ; and streams of 
water ran ever5rwhere, and I heard the 
birds singing; I asked God where they 
were._ 

God said, " It is the people calling to 
one another." 

And when we came nearer I saw them 
walking, and they shone as they walked. 



ACROSS MY BED 145 

I asked God how It was they wore no 
covering. 

God said, " Because all their body gives 
the light; they dare not cover any part." 

And I asked God what they were doing. 

God said, " Shining on the plants that 
they may grow." 

And I saw that some were working In 
companies, and some alone, but most were 
In twos, sometimes two rnen and some- 
times two women ; but generally there was 
one man and one woman ; and I asked God 
how It was. 

God said, " When one man and one 
woman shine together, it makes the most 
perfect light. Many plants need that for 
their growing. Nevertheless, there are 
more kinds of plants In Heaven than one, 
and they need many kinds of light." 

And one from among the people came 
running towards me; and when he came 
near It seemed to me that he and I had 



146 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

played together when we were little chil- 
dren, and that we had been born on the 
same day. And I told God what I felt; 
God said, " All men feel so in Heaven 
when another comes towards them." 

And he who ran towards me held my 
hand, and led me through the bright lights. 
And when we came among the trees he 
sang aloud, and his companion answered, 
and it was a woman, and he showed me 
to her. She said, " He must have water " ; 
and she took some in her hands, and fed 
me (I had been afraid to drink of the 
water in Hell), and they gathered fruit 
for me, and gave it me to eat. They said, 
" We shone long to make it ripen," and 
they laughed together as they saw me eat it. 

The man said, " He is very weary; he 
must sleep " (for I had not dared to sleep 
in Hell), and he laid my head on his com- 
panion's knee and spread her hair out over 
me. I slept, and all the while in my sleep 



ACROSS MY BED 147 

I thought I heard the birds calling across 
me. And when I woke it was like early 
morning, with the dew on everything. 

And the man took my hand and led me 
to a hidden spot among the rocks. The 
ground was very hard, but out of it were 
sprouting tiny plants, and there was a little 
stream running. He said, " This is a gar- 
den we are making, no one else knows of 
it. We shine here every day; see, the 
ground has cracked with our shining, and 
this little stream is bursting out. See, the 
flowers are growing." 

And he climbed on the rocks and picked 
from above two little flowers with dew on 
them, and gave them to me. And I took 
one in each hand; my hands shone as I 
held them. He said, " This garden is for 
all when it is finished." And he went away 
to his companion, and I went out into the 
great pathway. 

And as I walked in the light I heard a 



148 TEE SUNUGHT LAY 

loud sound of much singing. And when 
I came nearer I saw one with closed eyes, 
singing, and his fellows were standing 
round him ; and the light on the closed eyes 
was brighter than anything I had seen in 
Heaven. I asked one who it was. And 
he said, " Hush I Our singing bird." 

And I asked why the eyes shone so. 

And he said, " They cannot see, and we 
have kissed them till they shone so." 

And the people gathered closer round 
him. 

And when I went a little further I saw 
a crowd crossing among the trees of light 
with great laughter. When they came 
close I saw they carried one without hands 
or feet. And a light came from the 
maimed limbs so bright that I could not 
look at them. 

And I said to one, " What is it? " 

He answered, " This is our brother who 
once fell and lost his hands and feet, and 



ACROSS MY BED 149 

since then he cannot help himself; but we 
have touched the maimed stumps so often 
that now they shine brighter than anything 
in Heaven. We pass him on that he may 
shine on things that need much heat. No 
one is allowed to keep him long, he belongs 
to all " ; and they went on among the 
trees. 

I said to God, " This is a strange land. 
I had thought blindness and maimedness 
were great evils. Here men make them 
to a rejoicing." 

God said, " Didst thou then think that 
love had need of eyes and hands I " 

And I walked down the shining way 
with palms on either hand. I said to God, 
"Ever since I, was a little child and sat 
alone and cried, I have dreamed of this 
land, and now I will not go away again. 
I will stay here and shine." And I began 
to take off my garments, that I might shine 
as others in that land ; but when I looked 



150 THE SUNUGHT LAY 

down I saw my body gave no light. I 
said to God, " How is it? " 

God said, " Is there no daik blood in 
your heart; is it bitter against none?" 

And I said, " Yes " ; and I thought 

— " Now is the time when I will tell God, 
that which I have been meaning to tell 
him all along, how badly my fellow-men 
have treated me. How they have misun- 
derstood me. How I have intended to be 
magnanimous and generous to them, and 

they ." And I began to tell God; but 

when I looked down all the flowers were 
withering under my breath, and I was 
silent. 

And God called me to come up higher, 
and I gathered my mantle about me and 
followed him. 

And the rocks grew higher and steeper 
on every side; and we came at last to a 
place where a great mountain rose, whose 
top was lost in the clouds. And on its side 



ACROSS MY BED 151 

I saw men working; and they picked at 
the earth with huge picks; and I saw that 
they laboured mightily. And some la- 
boured in companies, but most laboured 
singly. And I saw the drops of sweat fall 
from their foreheads, and the muscles of 
their arms stand out with labour. And I 
said, " I had not thought in heaven to see 
men labour so ! " And I thought of the 
garden where men sang and loved, and I 
wondered that any should choose to labour 
on that bare mountain-side. And I saw 
upon the foreheads of the men as they 
worked a light, and the drops which fell 
from them as they worked had light. 

And I asked God what they were seek- 
ing for. 

And God touched my eyes, and I saw 
that what they found were small stones, 
which had been too bright for me to see 
before; and I saw that the light of the 
stones and the light on the men's foreheads 



152 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY 

was the same. And I saw that when one 
found a stone he passed it on to his fellow, 
and he to another, and he to another. No 
man kept the stone he found. And at 
times they gathered in great company 
about when a large stone was found, and 
raised a great shout so that the sky rang; 
then they worked on again. 

And I asked God what they did with 
the stones they found at last. Then God 
touched my eyes again to make them 
stronger; and I looked, and at my very 
feet was a mighty crown. The light 
streamed out from it. 

God said, " Each stone as they find it 
is set here." 

And the crown was wrought according 
to a marvellous pattern; one pattern ran 
through all, yet each part was different. 

I said to God, " How does each man 
know where to set his stone, so that the 
pattern is worked out?" 



ACROSS MY BED 153 

God said, " Because in the light his fore- 
head sheds each man sees faintly outlined 
that full crown." 

And I said, " But how is it that each 
stone is joined along its edges to its fellows, 
so that there is no seam anywhere?" 

God said, " The stones are alive ; they 
grow." 

And I said, " But what does each man 
,gain by his working? " 

God says, " He sees his outline filled." 

I said, " But those stones which are last 
set cover those which were first ; and those 
will again be covered by those which come 
later." 

God said, " They are covered, but not 
hid. The light is the light of all. With- 
out the first, no last." 

And I said to God, "When will this 
crown be ended?" 

And God said, " Look upl " 

I looked up; and I saw the mountain 



154 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

tower above me, but its summit I could 
not see ; it was lost in the clouds. 

God said no more. 

And I looked at the crown : then a long- 
ing seized me. Like the passion of a 
mother for the child whom death has 
taken; like the yearning of a friend for 
the friend whom life has buried; like the 
hunger of dying eyes for a life that is slip- 
ping; like the thirst of a soul for love at 
its first spring waking, so, but fiercer was 
the longing in me. 

I cried to God, " I too will work here; 
I too will set stones in the wonderful pat- 
tern ; it shall grow beneath my hand. And 
if it be that, labouring here for years, I 
should not find one stone, at least I will 
be with the men that labour here. I shall 
hear their shout of joy when each stone is 
found; I shall join in their triumph; I shall 
shout among them; I shall see the crown 
grow." So great was my longing as I 



ACROSS MY BED 155 

looked at the crown, I thought a faint light 
fell from my forehead also. 

God said, " Do you not hear the singing 
in the gardens? " 

I said, " No, I hear nothing; I see only 
the crown." And I was dumb with long- 
ing; I forgot all the flowers of the lower 
Heaven and the singing there. And I ran 
forward, and threw my mantle on the earth 
and bent to seize one of the mighty tools 
which lay there. I could not lift it from 
the earth. 

God said, " Where hast thou earned the 
strength to raise it? Take up thy man- 
tle." 

And I took up my mantle and followed 
where God called me; but I looked back, 
and I saw the crown burning, my crown 
that I had loved. 

Higher and higher we climbed, and the 
air grew thinner. Not a tree or plant was 
on the bare rocks, and the stillness was 



156 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY 

unbroken. My breath came hard and 
quick, and the blood crept within my 
finger-tips. I said to God, " Is this 
Heaven?" 

God said, "Yes; it is the highest." 

And still we climbed. I said to God, 
" I cannot breathe so high." 

God said, " Because the air is pure ? " 

And my head grew dizzy, and as I 
climbed the blood burst from my finger- 
tips. 

Then we came out upon a lonely moun- 
tain-top. 

No living being moved there; but far 
off on a solitary peak I saw a lonely figure 
standing. Whether it were man or woman 
I could not tell; for partly it seemed the 
figure of a woman, but its limbs were the 
mighty limbs of a man. I asked God 
whether it was man or woman. 

God said, " In the least Heaven sex 
reigns supreme; in the higher it is not 



ACROSS MY BED 157 

noticed; but in the highest it does not 
exist." 

And I saw the figure bend over its work, 
and labour mightily, but what it laboured 
at I could not see. 

I said to God, " How came it here?" 

God said, " By a bloody stair. Step by 
step it mounted from the lowest Hell, and 
day by day as Hell grew farther and 
Heaven no nearer, it hung alone between 
two worlds. Hour by hour in that bitter 
struggle its limbs grew larger, till there 
fell from it rag by rag the garments which 
it started with. Drops fell from its eyes 
as it strained them; each step it climbed 
was wet with blood. Then it came out 
here." 

And I thought of the garden where 
men sang with their arms around one 
another; and the mountain-side where 
they worked in company. And I shud- 
dered. 



158 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

And I said, "Is it not terribly alone 
here?" 

God said, "It Is never alone! " 

I said, " What has it for all its labour? 
I see nothing return to It." 

Then God touched my eyes, and I saw 
stretched out beneath us the plains of 
Heaven and Hell, and all that was within 
them. 

God said, " From that lone height on 
which he stands, all things are open. To 
him Is clear the shining in the garden, he 
sees the flower break forth and the streams 
sparkle ; no shout is raised upon the moun- 
tain-side but his ear may hear it. He sees 
the crown grow and the light shoot from 
it. All Hell Is open to him. He sees the 
paths mount upwards. To him, Hell is 
the seed ground from which Heaven 
springs. He sees the sap ascending." 

And I saw the figure bend over its work, 
and the light from its face fell upon It. 



ACROSS MY BED 159 

And I said to God, " What Is it ma- 
king? " 

And God said, " Music 1" 

And he touched my ears, and I heard It. 

And after a long while I whispered to 
God, " This is Heaven." 

And God asked me why I was crying. 
But I could not answer for joy. 

And the face turned from its work, and 
the light fell upon me. Then it grew so 
bright I could not see things separately; 
and which were God, or the man, or I, I 
could not tell; we were all blended. I 
cried to God, "Where are you?" but 
there was no answer, only music and light. 

Afterwards, when it had grown so dark 
again that I could see things separately, 
I found that I was standing there wrapped 
tight in my little old, brown, earthly cloak, 
and God and the man were separated from 
each other, and from me. 

I did not dare say I would go and make 



160 THE SUNLIGHT LAY 

music beside the man. I knew I could not 
reach even to his knee, nor move the instru- 
ment he played. But I thought I would 
stand there on my little peak and sing an 
accompaniment to that great music. And 
I tried ; but my voice failed. It piped and 
quavered. I could not sing that tune. I 
was silent. 

Then God pointed to me, that I should 
go out of Heaven. 

And I cried to God, " Oh, let me stay 
here 1 If indeed it be, as I know it is, that 
I am not great enough to sing upon the 
mountain, nor strong enough to labour on 
its side, nor bright enough to shine and 
love within the garden, at least let me go 
down to the great gateway; humbly I will 
kneel there weeping; and, as the saved 
pass in, I will see the light upon their faces. 
I shall hear the singing in the garden, and 
the shout upon the hillside " 

God said, " It may not be ; " he pointed. 



ACROSS MY BED 161 

And I cried, " If I may not stay in 
Heaven, then let me go down to Hell, and 
I will grasp the hands of men and women 
there; and slowly, holding one another's 
hands, we will work our way upwards." 

Still God pointed. 

And I threw myself upon the earth and 
cried, " Earth is so small, so mean I It is 
not meet a soul should see Heaven and be 
cast out again I " 

And God laid his hand on me, and said, 
" Go back to earth : that which you seek 
is there." 

I awoke: it was morning. The silence 
and darkness of the night were gone. 
Through my narrow attic window I saw 
the light of another day. I closed my 
eyes and turned towards the wall : I could 
not look upon the dull grey world. 

In the streets below, men and women 
streamed past by hundreds; I heard the 



162 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY 

beat of their feet on the pavement. Men 
on their way to business; servants on er- 
rands; boys hurrying to school; weary 
professors pacing slowly the old street; 
prostitutes, men and women, dragging their 
feet wearily after last night's debauch; 
artists with quick, impatient footsteps; 
tradesmen for orders ; children to seek for 
bread. I heard the stream beat by. And 
at the alley's mouth, at the street corner, 
a broken barrel-organ was playing; some- 
times it quavered and almost stopped, then 
went on again, like a broken human voice. 
I listened: my heart scarcely moved; it 
was as cold as lead. I could not bear the 
long day before me; and I tried to sleep 
again; yet still I heard the feet upon the 
pavement. And suddenly I heard them 
cry loud as they beat, " We are seeking 1 — 
we are seeking ! — we are seeking ! " and 
the broken barrel-organ at the street cor- 
ner sobbed, "The Beautiful! — the Beau- 



ACROSS MY BED 163 

tiful ! — the Beautiful ! " And my heart, 
which had been dead, cried out with every 
throb, " Love ! — Truth ! — the Beautiful 1 
— the Beautiful ! " It was the music I had 
heard in Heaven that I could not sing 
there. 

And fully I awoke. 

Upon the faded quilt, across my bed a 
long yellow streak of pale London sun- 
light was lying. It fell through my narrow 
attic window. 

I laughed. I rose. 

I was glad the long day was before me. 

Paris and London.